July 2002

July 6th

There is no way to avoid gossip. It's a fact of life. People share rumors and thoughts, they speculate, and those speculations are shared. They get around. Sometimes, people are hurt by it but - in my reasonably-ethical social circle - only those who have some wrongdoing to hide. Those of my friends who have been incorrectly accused of running off with the milkman have usually heard the rumor in a timely manner and stomped it flat.

I like to gossip, at times. A little bit of salaciousness can liven up a dull day. At least, that used to be my policy. Things might be changing, however...

But there are times when the gossip is alarming, and my busybody instinct kicks in, and I start meddling. Some people simply think I have a big mouth. I consider it a keen interest in the truth and in fire-control.

As might be guessed, I've just gotten done with another bout of meddling. It was done as gently as possible - albeit via the forum of my livejournal. But that seemed to be the best way for me to deal with my own emotional reaction - more to the point, the need to write it out, rather than put my fist through a wall - and warn certain parties that Something Was Up. Don't bother looking for the LJ entries now, dear reader, as they are long-since taken off line. The matter has been dealt with and is closed.

Now all I have to do is finish dealing with my own lingering paranoia and anger.

The whole situation stunk like bad fish. If one takes the charitable view, it seems someone misunderstood something, and it made the rounds before being stomped flat. The uncharitable view suggests that someone was making up stories and whoever that someone is, it's someone I trust. The notion that any one of my acquaintances would make up a tale that could ultimately end Very Badly (as in, someone's long-term relationship melting down - it was that kind of gossip) makes my stomach hurt. And it makes me angry. I understand that sometimes lies are socially necessary, and I've told a few in my time, too. But this is not one of those times.

Part of me wants to hunt down every single person in this particular situation and insist "Either be sure of the truth, or shut up. If someone tells you something in confidence, and you betray that confidence by telling anyone else, don't be putting on the righteously-indignant act that the news gets passed on still further. Do unto others, you dig?" But the bigger part of me realizes that this is an unrealistic expectation and, in fact, hypocritical. We're all sinners around here.

Many times in the past months I've heard "I'm not supposed to tell anyone, but..." And, hell, that happens. In fact, I've come to the conclusion that such tattling is, in fact, inevitable. It might take a few days, or it might take a couple of years but, sooner or later, the secrets squirm loose. Damn it all.

But people can't just quit talking to each other. As a veteran motor mouth, myself, I would be very upset if we took collective vows of silence. Besides, it's bad enough when verbalizations get misunderstood. God help us all if we had to rely on instant-messages and written letters. Oh, the potential for snit fits and sulky silences!

This isn't going to fly with anyone I know, but I am doing my best to cut down my own contributions to the gossip turbine. If I hear shit, I go back to the supposed source (or object) of the rumor and ask them for verification/denial. So it's never a great idea to precede any exchange with me with "I said I wouldn't tell anyone, but..." because, if it's something damaging, I'm probably going to go back to the source. Okay, so that's not as good as throwing up my hands and saying "Whoa, if you're betraying a confidence, or spreading innuendo, I really don't want to hear it." but Rome wasn't built in a day. See "I like to gossip", above.

My behavior is pissing people off - the rumor-mongers and rumor-objects alike. One more tempest, and I shall probably abandon the strategy and look into vows of silence. Not really, of course, but I'm realizing there's no such thing as a happy medium when dealing with hot gossip. The latest tempest, I could have handled better. But my temper was up, I was feeling emotional (convinced that I had been lied to by several friends) and I felt that the matter had to be dealt with quickly, rather than left to fester. So I did the best I could - and that's never to say that it's the best possible solution. Mea fuckin' culpa.

Where was I? Oh yeah, paranoia and anger... Those both stem from, as I say, the realization that I might have been lied to, over a really important matter (someone claimed to have given up a bad habit, rumor strongly suggested otherwise). The paranoia is because I'm not entirely trusting of various parties involved, based on previous behavior, so I'm not keen on taking their oaths of angelic behavior at face value. Someone's laughing at me, but I'm not sure who. 

The anger is a residual from my reaction to the initial salacious rumor and the whole fear-of-habit-dropper-having-lied. It'll die down in time. I've made a lot more progress on letting go of negative energy than I have on reining in my busybody impulses.

I've discovered that fundamental laziness is a boon for maintaining emotional stability. It's just too much work to get pissed over a long period of time or carry a grudge, unless it's really, really worth it. Ninety-eight percent of the things in my life are not worth it. I'll have an initial flash of irritation. Maybe I'll seethe for a few days. But within a week, I'm over it - and that's for the heavy duty stuff. Although, for the record, let it be noted that things like flying planes into buildings and nailing kittens to plywood fall into the two-percent category...

Hm, I've totally failed to vent my feelings. In fact, I've just worked myself up again, after a very calm day. Oh well, it won't matter in a month - which is the point of this enterprise, anyways.

Some days, friends are more trying than others. Forgive everything, because you never know when you'll need forgiveness, yourself. No doubt I'm in need of a bit of it at this point, but those are the breaks.

July 7th

Yesterday, as I sat happily preening at a social get-together, a friend of mine complimented me on my new trousers which, I must admit are a tiny bit tight around the waist. I mentioned that I had bought them, despite being a bit small, as an incentive for me to lose that last 5 - 10 pounds that I want to get rid of.

          "But you'll be a stick!" my loyal friend cried.

Time to let everyone in on a secret here. I want to be a stick. Well, more stick-like than I am at the moment. Sure, I'll never see my high-school days of 110lbs again - and even if I did, all the flesh would be in remarkably different places than it was back in those days of yore. But I want to be thin - as thin as a medium-framed chica who has apparently inherited her grandpop's tendency to flab can expect to be, that is.

I suppose The Empowered Women's Club will come along and take away my membership card now, but that's how it is.

Why do I crave thinness more often that I crave a balanced checkbook? Easy: ego. I've got a brittle ego - overdeveloped and thin skinned. I'm not overburdened with brains - certainly not compared to my incredibly intelligent and talented friends - and at this point in my life, I can't help feeling that I've reached my level-of-competence when it comes to brainy-type things and no-one has shown signs of withering with jealousy yet, so I'm going to have to settle for looking as fabulous as possible.

'Tis a terrible thing to admit, the desire to invoke jealousy but I guess that's what brittle egos do best - namely scheme and encourage grandiose impractical notions.

I'm not looking to make my friends jealous. That's not a nice thing to do to friends. I just want to collect my share of envious glances over at the local coffee shop. God knows, I've handed a number of them out, over time.

I'm at that "last ten pounds" hump. I should exercise, I should keep to the strict 1200 calories per day thing, but every day I find a reason for "a little treat", or to put off picking up the weights. I suppose it's part of my ongoing policy of self-defeat - more on that some other day. But the scales haven't been inching upwards, and I consider that a good thing. I've just been on a plateau for a month. With luck, I will stumble across fresh inspiration or incentive (beyond my thrift-store leather trousers, that is) and get back on track.


July 8th

Interesting topic of conversation during a quiet moment at the office today. Bossman and I were discussing what I really want to do with my life. He seemed a bit startled to hear that I like to sew, as well as "act" (guess who got the simplified version of what LARPs are?) and now he's found out that I enjoy writing, too. We discussed writing a bit, and the subject moved on to how bloody hard it is to make a living out of any of the creative arts...

     "Why don't you teach part-time over at the Art Academy?" he says, guiltily trying to suggest a job that would make up for that fact that he can only pay me part time at the moment.
     "No good," says I. "I don't have teaching credentials." Although, truth be told, I have been thinking about looking into it. But I haven't been thinking about it very hard.
     At this juncture, Bossman pointed out that SFAA doesn't require teachers to meet California State requirements. After all, it's a private institution. It turns out the lawyer/marketing dude of our office teaches screenplay over there, fer Crissakes...

To his credit, I should mention that aforementioned lawyer has actually sold some teleplays and has a reasonably agent, so it's not like this teaching gig is something he's pulling out of his ass. Or maybe he is.

Me. Teach. Hmm....

But I can't teach screenwriting. I don't know enough about it - one semester at college does not an expert make...

But the Academy does offer short-term 1 unit classes - usually done in one whacking great six-hour session - on various disciplines of writing. I wonder if I could coagulate various bits of knowhow I've picked up over time and pitch a 'character development for screenplay' mini-course at these guys? What the hell, it can't hurt... I'll have to talk to K (the lawyer/teacher) about it when I see him next.


Things not to wear when going to the 7-11 for a lottery ticket: Black jeans, black leather vest, no shirt, battered black leather cowboy hat, and some truly ridiculous Oakley-wannabe shades. If the wearer had even an ounce of looks or charisma, he could have pulled it off. As it was, I doubt he had to fend off the chicks at the Slurpee machine.


Am I too sensitive? At times, yes. I'm quick to anger. I tend to over-interpret anything a person says to me. I often fear being laughed at (okay, that one's endemic to most English people). I find myself tearing up at schmaltzy moments in books and movies. Heck, I get teary-eyed when I see squished earthworms in the road after a rainstorm.

But I'm quick to forgive - no, really! And I always try to be a friendly and accessible person. And I want to believe in honor and honesty - meaning I will do my best to take a person at their word, and ignore my Inner Cynic that points out I risk being made a fool. And I do my best to direct anger only at those things worth being angry about. But things Johanna considers worthy of her fury is a topic for another day. 

Perhaps I'm sensitive about the wrong things. I would get into that in further detail, but that would involve citing incidents and naming names. Some of those names read this journal, and - along with probably being oversensitive - I'm also damned lazy. I don't want to deal with the fallout of being too honest around here. Suffice it to say that there have been moments in my life where I have felt unjustly wronged, or deeply furious, or incomprehensibly anxious and paranoid over matters that probably didn't deserve that much energy.

I must admit that I have realized that most of my sensitivity is self-centered. I can be callous if it's not my tender feelings at stake. Mea culpa.

I'm starting to think I should have named this journal Mea Fuckin' Culpa, but I digress...

It used to be that I didn't care about my bouts of thoughtlessness and callousness. But I've learned a bit better, and when to fake it to cover up occasional slips. Too often, the little gestures of concern that I make are a result of wheels churning in my skull and the internal question "What would be the nice/proper/polite thing to do in this instance?". Shouldn't a consideration for others, an empathy for another's situation be an instinctive thing? Or am I giving mankind way too much credit, here?

I suppose a person's point of view depends upon which philosophers they read... Some people will argue that morality and such like are instinctive. On the other end of the spectrum, we've got people like Ayn Rand and Plato who I think have gotten far more press than they deserve. But that particular argument is not one I want to get into right now.

Where was I? Oh yah. So, I tend to fake it when it comes to being a person that actually gives a rat's ass about anyone else. Is this acceptable? Hell, is it actually what everyone is doing, and we're just hoping that no-one rats us out?


July 11th

Well, I found out why the Bossman was so keen to talk about my other career choices. I just got laid off again. That makes it twice in twelve months and I'm feeling just great about that, let me tell you.

Actually, I won't. If I start discussing how I feel about all this, I'm just going to descend in a slough of self-pity and desperation. To hell with that.

Today, I sat down with three pennies and a recently acquired workbook and decided to tackle the I Ching again. Ramblings readers will remember my perennial fondness for throwing coins every day. I wish I could have kept up with it. I think my mistakes lay in a) trying to do it day and day out, regardless of my mood and b) trying to sneak in the day's casting whilst at work. Being rushed and furtive is not conducive to a positive reading.

Now, I don't believe in most supernatural tenets. I particularly don't believe that three dead guys from China are trying to communicate with me, via the hexagrams. But I do believe in symbols and that if a person chooses to empower something with meaning, then the meaning it holds for that person should not be derided. Which is why I keep my tongue firmly in cheek when talking to, well, anyone about their beliefs. Okay, so I'm not so good around the Christians, but I'm trying to get better and I'm going off on a tangent, go figure...

The I Ching is a well-arranged collection of symbols, thought and advice that can be used as an aid to meditation - just like a tarot deck, or a cluster of runestones. All tools of "divination" are merely foci for thoughts that would otherwise be scattered or ignored. The caster interprets the signs as much as - in this case - a bunch of fellas from ancient China. Divination doesn't tell the diviner anything they didn't know already, but it forces one to consciously realize and identify factors that might otherwise remain amorphous and - probably - of more harm than good.

I Ching holds a multifaceted appeal for me. Like any divinatory tool, it's open to multiple and complex interpretations - particularly when you keep the subjective nature of interpretation in mind. The hexagrams have a certain mathematical progression that comforts the tiny-yet-significant part of me that enjoys orderly progressions. Furthermore - whimsy of translators aside - the I Ching generally counsels balance, intelligence and compassion - three things I crave on a daily basis.

This little workbook I have forces me to focus. The coins are thrown, the hexagrams determined, interpreted, and suggestions for future action are realized, and it's all written down in this book. No hastily tossing coins at my desk and typing my interpretation directly onto a screen. I've come to realize that pen-on-paper writing also focuses my concentration. I write so much slower than I type, so I have to pick my words with care. I've noticed a distressing trend to sound like Yoda when I'm interpreting hexagrams and trigrams - ponderous and ungrammatical - but I think I'll get over that in time.

I won't do a reading unless I have the time to sit down with the workbook and record it by hand. So I doubt this is going to be a daily habit. From time to time, I may transcribe my observations and put them here. Yestermonth is as good a place as any for this sort of thing and, when I decide to backtrack and look over previous readings, it'll be much easier to read than my handwriting!

Having done some reading on coins versus yarrow sticks, I think I'm going to have to pick up some yarrow sticks and get the hang of that method. It's all to do with the probabilities determining the hexagram, you see...

On to the fun stuff.

Initial Question: How may I move my life forward, without burning bridges to the past?

(The Cauldron)

Wei Chi
(In Order, Out Of Place)

Inspired information and wisdom from a single (spiritual?) source. Good fortune and success await the inspired man. 
Moving lines: Aggression stemming from lack of confidence or knowledge. On the threshold of change, but also at high risk. Learn a needful lesson and acquire gentleness to move on.
Things are in order, but out of place. Something is not performing as intended and therefore not at full efficiency. But only step needs to be taken for success to be obtained. Success is close, but danger also so caution and discretion must be maintained.

    Initial interpretation: Care must be taken not to move quickly and embrace change for its own sake. I am focused on the wrong things (body over mind?) but closer to fulfillment than I realize. "Moving forward" need not engender radical change, particular if it's not well thought-out. 
    Assertiveness and confidence, when backed by knowledge, is admirable. Reactionary bluster is not.
    There is nothing wrong with shedding things/ideas that have been outgrown. In fact, that is necessary, but to be ruthless will cause regrets later. Rely on intelligence and rationale, rather than intuition.
    Regarding Ting (the Cauldron) - the third line shown as a reinforced strong line changing to a weak line that is not reinforced results in the interpretation of particular high-risk.
The hexagrams below are based upon the nuclear trigrams of the above. I extrapolated these as an experiment, although such an action can help clarify a subtle suggestion or trend within the initial hexagram.

(Overthrow of Evil)
This reinforces the hexagram Ting

Chi Chi
(Completion, In Order And In Place)
This reinforces the hexagram Wei Chi

Overcoming a bad habit or enemy. Success is almost inevitable, given the united support of friends, family and self-purpose. This is an auspicious time to take on new projects.
Perfect order has been accomplished. Small accomplishments may be undertaken with success, but beware of unethical methods or justifications. Maintain this order and balance for as long as possible.
Interesting note: Chi Chi, the 64th hexagram, is a very 'strong' hexagram because every line is the optimal line in its optimal place: strong (undivided) lines are in the strong place (lines 1, 3, 5) and weak (divided) lines are all in their proper locations (lines 2, 4 and 6). As the name says, everything is in order and in place, hence the meaning of the hexagram. Abyssal water (a downward force) is above Fire (an upward force) and thus they sustain each other. But I'm digressing...
Further interpretation: Well, that's certainly enheartening. An emphasis on success over adversity (within and without) providing I can allow myself to rely on friends. Very close, but still a significant step away from final goal. A sense that there is only one obstacle barring my path to ongoing progress - probably my own attitude, particularly its moments of defeatism.
Actions to take: Stay aggressive with the job hunt - don't let vanity make me miss an opportunity. I'm contemplating quitting a few associations I've had in the past, but perhaps just a short break is all that's needed. Keep writing, even if it's just in this workbook and my journals to remain focused on vital goals. Be brave. Think before acting. Be honest. Heed advice of others.

Actions to avoid: Don't badmouth previous actions or policy, just to prove that a change has occurred. Don't be rash. Avoid arrogance. Do not rely on self alone - that way lies defeat.
Given that - in total - casting, interpreting and transcribing all this took over an hour, I don't think I'll be recording every reading, even if I do them infrequently. I'll mention them here as events warrant and/or if I have to the time to transcribe everything. Right now, the important thing is to study and focus on the divination itself. Everything else is gravy.

July 12th

Aromatherapy works. I just made a pitcher of sangria for tonight's game, and my mood has improved considerably. The smell of citrus, sugar and red wine just can't fail to cheer one up, I suppose. The prospect of an interview with a freelance production house in Walnut Creek, also helps.

Tonight's game is Alex's 7th Sea game. He was hurt when I said I was going to skip it, so I caved in and joined. I'm glad I did. It has become apparent that this group has a much more upbeat attitude, and a better sense of cooperation. In fact, things are gelling so nicely that I think my worry over eventual bad energy between myself and B was groundless. This is A Good Thing.


The ongoing family worry is...ongoing. It has provoked some rather dark and unhappy thoughts in my mind, but I'm doing my best to banish them and maintain an optimistic outlook. This is not my normal view on life - I tend to be an inadvertent optimist (i.e., naive) rather than a deliberate one. Thirty years of habitual cynicism is hard to overcome.


It has lately occurred to me that I'm treating my pets better than I am treating my husband. This is going to change.

Oh look, more I Ching.

General Reading

(Dissolve, disintegrate, disperse)

wu wei: A dangerous situation exists which can be resolved by perceiving the source of the danger and dissipating the dangerous elements. Perseverance is required in the search for that source.

Richard Wilhelm: Dispersion. Success. The king approaches his temple. It furthers one to cross the great water. Perseverance furthers.

    Initial interpretation: The conflict between these two translations bothers me. I believe this reading is suggesting that one is at risk by fault of laziness or improper behavior. The nuclear hexagram, unfortunately, doesn't give much more clarity - unless I'm about to serve a batch of bad sangria!

The hexagram below is based upon the nuclear trigrams of the above. I extrapolated these as an experiment, although such an action can help clarify a subtle suggestion or trend within the initial hexagram.

(Providing sustenance)

wu wei: This kua counsels you regarding the provision of sustenance: food, income, housing, education, spiritual guidance or information and material things. Pay attention to providing sustenance to others and the kind of sustenance you provide for yourself. To be a superior person, you must be temperate in eating, drinking and speaking.
Richard Wilhelm: The Corners of the Mouth. Perseverance brings good fortune. Pay heed to the providing of nourishment And to what a man seeks to fill his own mouth with.

Further interpretation: Alright, this helps a bit, particularly in the sense of 'spiritual sustenance' and giving to others. See "treating husband worse than the pets" above. This latest bout of introversion and stress has put me within my own skull and I have withdrawn a lot from people lately - not just Alex, but many friends, too. Following upon another reading (done yesterday, not recorded) I think the suggestion here is to pay heed to the company and well-being of others, as well as myself.

Actions to take: Stop withdrawing from friends and husband. Work on relationship with husband. Stick to diet. Start exercising again, even if it's just a daily walk.

Actions to avoid: Resist temptation to slide into a bad temper. Eating cheese by the pound (came close the other day)

July 14th

Eight days until my birthday. I'm not so much perturbed about hitting "the big three-oh" as I am about the fact that I found out what Alex is getting me for my present, and it's not going to work out. How can one communicate that, or at least a sense of "Keep the receipt!" without sounding ungrateful? Answer: one can't. Sigh. I would rather aggravate him now then go to the effort of bullying our friends into contributing for a present, and then watching my face fall when it's unwrapped. 

Ouch. Max just opened an inch-wide cut on my right breast. The perils of sitting nekkid at the computer during a heat wave. Ouch.

Alex wants to get me a fitting dummy, you see, which is great, because I really want one. But I've told him before that commercially-made ones don't work for disproportionate gals like myself. A mass-produced tailor's dummy in 38-29-36 is going to be too long in the torso, too low waisted, too small in the breast cup (I'm DD, mass produced dummies are a B cup) and too large in the underbust. About the only thing about it that would be correct is the hip measurement and the height, and that rather defies the whole point of having a mannequin. 

I've brought this up to Alex and the gal he has dispatched to purchase the mannequin, but I think they've gone ahead and done it, anyway. Sigh. The creation of a duct-tape double would be cheaper and much more effective. Alex could have rounded up a couple of friends and one-third the cash, and we could have had a wrap-up-Johanna day. That would be just fine. But now, I dunno...

I feel like such an ungrateful wretch. 

But if you're going to do something, you're going to want to do it right, right?


Bah, enough of this bitchery. 

So, the big three-oh. I suppose I could wax lyrical about how I feel about myself, past expectation versus the present reality, yadda yadda but I don't think that would be neither interesting nor positive, so I'm going to think about something else. 


I'm continuing my project to find new trouble to get into. If I want to do any sort of living history that isn't tied in with the Renaissance guilds hereabouts, but is still tied up in 15th and 16th Century England, it's going to have to be the SCA. I'm 6,000 miles too far to the west to find any groups dedicated solely to The Wars of the Roses, and the SCA is the best (and only) choice I've got. 

I've heard mixed reports about the SCA hereabouts - ranging from "downright awful" to "carefully neutral". This is not reassuring. Judging by the SCAdians I see at the local gaming conventions, there are quite a few furries in the organization, and they see nothing wrong with mixing genres. I've got to admit, I didn't realize that the scope for "creative anachronism" went quite that far. I hear there's a large "Family" on the east coast that maintains that they're Tolkien Elves. Hmmm. This is not reassuring.

But the only solution is to visit a get-together of the local Shire and check them out for myself. I might be able to find a sane family that focuses on my preferred period. But I'll admit I'm not optimistic. 

However, living history appeals to me for a variety of reasons - I'm a history fiend, the costuming opportunities are quiet drool-worthy, it's not Vampire LARPing, etc - so I'm determined to find an outfit to join and enjoy. 

(Speaking of Vampire LARPing, I have decided to take another break from CAST. I doubt it will be permanent, as I usually end up jonseing for that game after a month, but I will retire Patricia. Apparently there has been some muttering about the STs having "too powerful" characters, which I think is a crock of shit, but Trish has hit a good point for retirement, anyways...)

Alex is keen on checking out the WWII unit in Dublin that we encountered at DDC last year. Whilst I'm sure I'd make a very cute WAAF (although with my sense of humor, I'd probably try to create a traveling NAAFI and making all sorts of Goon Show jokes), WWII is a bit recent for my tastes. We'll see, I guess.

I would also like to find a regular sewing circle to join, but around here, it's all quilting and machine embroidery. If I want a costuming-friendly sewing circle, I think I'm going to have to start one myself. What I really need to do is cough up the money to join GBACG, as I suspect I'll find exactly what I'm looking for there.


Hm, it seems that I can either share deep, angry thoughts. Or twitter on about happy day-to-day stuff. Deep happy thoughts don't come easily, I guess. I shall have to work on remedying that.

July 15th

Seven days until my 30th birthday. For a person who professes not to really care about this particular milestone, I certainly seem very aware of its approach.


I've been laid off for less than a week, and the whole job-hunt has me depressed already. No doubt it's the knowledge that it took me five months to find a new job, last time, and I'm not entirely sure I qualify for unemployment this time around that's got me so stressed. So I'm trying to be "proactive" rather than just wallowing in worry. I'm sending out at least six resumes a day - the target number stops me from slacking off and thinking that only applying to one 'good' job is acceptable. I'm picking up my weight routine again to deal with stress and fight off any chairbound ballooning of my hips. I'm using the I Ching to try to stay focused. And I'm calling on my rich imagination to keep me totally distracted the rest of the time.

So far, results have been erratic. I'm still consumed by worry, but I suppose it's not as much as it would otherwise be.


If only Alex and I were at a place where we could afford to be a one-income family. I would still look for work, because I like disposable income, but the search wouldn't be nearly so frantic. More to the point, once I found work, Alex could hie himself back to college and get some formal training in graphic design and other things, so he could fin a job he likes. Then, when he's taken care of, we could switch and I could go do the no-money routine for a year or so with the indie-makers (or the costume shop at the SF Opera, whichever). But, if wishes were horses, etc...


One could say that my latest bout of historical leanings - looking for 15th Century re-creationists, a growing interest in running a Verne/Welles science-fantasy larp (more on that, later) - is a manifestation of an urge to run away from life. Retreat into history or fantasy and get away from everyday life and its chronic problems. Running away is always easier than dealing with matters, but it never works in the long run. The world just isn't big enough.

Admittedly, sliding into the past appeals to my miniscule romantic side, too. Oh, stop laughing. Even I occasionally get misty-eyed at the notions of chivalry and olde-fashioned etiquette. Of course, such things no more existed then as now, but it's much easier to romanticize the past, isn't it? I suppose there's not much harm in it, as long as one remains balanced.

Which is probably why I'm reluctant to join the SCA. I've not seen a lot of balance in that organization, of late.


I should be using this laid-off time to work on my writing. I've got an idea - well, a notion, I suppose - for a murder mystery story/novella. I'm not sure about the final length, because all I've got are the characters, at the moment. Still, I like them, and they are aging well. I just need to work out the, um, 'murder' and 'mystery' part. In my defense, I would like to state that I had an outline, but it ate itself when I couldn't come up with an adequate motive. It was a case of "Wouldn't it be cool if Death X occurred at a fancy wedding reception and Protagonist Z managed to figure it out because of a picture she took of the wedding party?" A case of 'cool sitch, but nothing else'. So I've shoved that idea aside.

But I haven't picked up a new one to replace it. I really want to get my hands on a couple of good books on crafting mysteries, but I'm in no shape to be buying anything right now, and my fines over at the library are truly impressive. Still, I may as well clear those out and try my luck at the local branch.

I've always enjoyed the genre, so I think having a go at it might be an enjoyable challenge. But I'll admit that I'm not the sharpest knife in the box and I'm more-often-than-not surprised by the final chapter of most mysteries. Therefore it's a little ironic that I want to try crafting my own. Hence the desire for some helpful advice. And unemployment would be the ideal time to sit down and write. If I wasn't so bloody worried all the dam' time...


So, the Verne/Welles science-fantasy LARP. Alex has been getting me into this admittedly-cheezy-but-fun show The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne. Also, I've been getting more interested in 19th-Century flavored science-fantasy - The Time Machine, that sort of thing. I'm sure a lot of it is attributable to finally reading Forbidden Kingdoms, too. So, as I sat in front of the tube the other day, I said to Alex "Gee, this would make a fun larp setting, wouldn't it? Not a one shot, but a recurrent troupe with ongoing player-characters." Alex, bless him, got thoughtful, but also brought up some problems with the idea. It would be fun to partake in, but hard to keep going over a long period of time. Given that the PCs are a bunch of relatively-normal humans - ie, all members of The Explorers' Society - it would strain the boundaries of plausability to keep having strange and whacky things happening to them.

All in all, a Victoriana science-fantasy game (memo: must check out Falkenstein one of these days) would probably be best suited as a one-shot sort of thing - and probably at a convention. But the idea of an ongoing chronicle is very appealing. I shall have to put the notion on my mental back-burner and see what comes of it...

General Reading

Setting Limitations

Waiting in the Face Of Danger

wu wei: Everything in moderation benefits, excess destroys. Limit everything to a beneficial (but not severe) level. Have a clear idea about what you conduct should be and what degree of virtue you wish to attain. 
Moving line: You have been weak and indulgent - this tendency will cause regret. By realizing excesses, one can limit them and no blame will be attached to progress.

Richard Wilhelm: Limitation. Success. Galling limitation must not be persevered in. Water over lake: the image of Limitation. Thus the superior man Creates number and measure, And examines the nature of virtue and correct conduct.
wu wei: A person who desires to advance, but there is great danger in advancing. Wait until the danger passes by. During this time of waiting, clarify your plans and maintain a joyous outlook.

Richard Wilhelm: Waiting. If you are sincere, You have light and success. Perseverance brings good fortune. It furthers one to cross the great water.

Clouds rise up to heaven: The image of Waiting. Thus the superior man eats and drinks, Is joyous and of good cheer.

Initial interpretation: I have been wallowing in self-pity of late and using my lousy mood as an excuse to eat poorly, avoid exercise, sleep late, etc. I've always complained about being "reactive" rather than "proactive" and it seems it is time to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. I need to decide precisely what I want to do in future - drift from job to job, or focus on building a more coherent 'career' and life, and act on those decisions.

Neither hexagram is particularly well balanced, although there are some strong lines, well supported, and both hua integrate upward and downward trigrams in the most propitious place. Correct energy, but not necessarily the correct time.

The hexagrams below are based upon the nuclear trigrams of the above. I extrapolated these as an experiment, although such an action can help clarify a subtle suggestion or trend within the initial hexagram.

(Providing Sustenance)

Chung Fu
(alt: Inner Truth)

wu wei: This kua counsels you regarding the provision of sustenance: food, income, housing, education, spiritual guidance or information and material things. Pay attention to providing sustenance to others and the kind of sustenance you provide for yourself. To be a superior person, you must be temperate in eating, drinking and speaking.

Richard Wilhelm: The Corners of the Mouth. Perseverance brings good fortune. Pay heed to the providing of nourishment And to what a man seeks to fill his own mouth with.
wu wei: maintain emptiness by not holding prejudiced thoughts, forgone conclusions or conscious purpose - you will ten be open to receiving wisdom and knowledge from other sources: people, objects, the Universe itself.

Richard Wilhelm:  Inner Truth. Pigs and fishes. Good fortune. It furthers one to cross the great water. Perseverance furthers.

Wind over lake: the image of Inner Truth. Thus the superior man discusses criminal cases In order to delay executions.
Further interpretation: Again, moderate excesses, focus on spiritual development. Be open to advice and words from without. Let go of old ideas, old concepts. Move forward when the time is ripe.
Actions to take: Remain open-minded to suggestions and advice. React intellectually to situations, not emotionally. Maintain healthy diet, exercise and sleep. Use unemployed time to write, to exercise, to research options.

Actions to avoid: Self pity and indulgence. Anger. Wishful thinking at the cost of action.
As usual, the I Ching doesn't tell me something I didn't know already - but it reinforces and re-emphasizes certain courses of action that would be beneficial.

July 18th

Today, I interviewed with a guy - Greg Freeman - about taking over as office manager and general majordomo. The position has a lot of potential plusses. It's in Walnut Creek, it's very high-energy (handle equipment booking, crew booking, assist with finances, manage office, assist with editing as needed) and appeals to me because it seems to be the right combination of chaos and purpose. I'm pretty certain Greg wants to hire me, but he's trying to give himself two weeks to decide, and I can't wait that long, not really.

I told him so, for all the good it will do me.

I think part of the delay is tied up with the fact that Greg currently has an office manager and he's going to, um, lay them off. And it can take a bit of doing to get the nerve up to take care of that, even if you want to get rid of the person.

So, fingers are crossed, but not for too long, I hope.


Tomorrow is my b-day celebration day. I'm probably just going to round up the friends that are free, and go out for dinner and socialize. As long as every makes a fuss of me, my inner Black Duck will be satisfied.


On my birthday itself - which is Monday - I don't know what I'm going to do. I might go down to the beach for a bit of quiet reflection. Or I might just sulk around the house like I have for the past ten days. I think it depends how I feel when I wake up in the morning.

July 19th

The self pity train seems to have a fine head of steam today. I was just speaking with Susan and I had been bitching about not being motivated enough to do some things that I wanted to get done this morning. Maybe you'll be inspired later, she said. 

Fat chance, I thought. I haven't had a fully original idea since about 1996, and even that's debatable. I can't write anything original to save my life at this point, and sewing isn't exactly a grand creative endeavor on the same scale. I've always thought my creativity was pretty much the last, best thing I had going for me, and it seems to have kicked up its little legs and died without my permission. What the hell do I do now?

Ironic, in that my mother and I were talking about getting chores done. But the pity-me pixie picked up the ball and ran with it. Damn him.

Things would be a modicum nicer if I could be adult enough not to be simmering with jealousy over B's latest publishing successes. Her erotica writing is finally taking off, and I'm glad. Frankly, I thought her erotica was generally a cut above her regular prose, anyways. She's finally picking up some gigs, selling pieces to various websites and enjoying her success. Good for her.

I am happy for her. But I'm also jealous. Then I get mad at myself for being jealous and feel guilty. This is usually followed by a period of self-berating - get up off your ass and do something, woman! - and then the self-doubt gnomes kick in - yeah, like what? You haven't had an original idea pan out since college. And it all goes to hell again.

This is not a happy cycle. 


I'm going out tonight to celebrate my birthday with a small group of friends. I make no assurances against drunken entries later this evening.

July 24th

Contrary to popular belief, I did not spend my entire birthday (two days ago) sulking in bed. 

I went into the city for a bit of a fabric-wander and, in my usual fashion, acquired far too much fabric for a project only to discover, later, that there's something much better out there that I could use. Still, the original fabric - a charcoal-gray crepe satin - will make for something gorgeous. I'm just not sure what, at the moment. 

I deliberately overdressed for my city outing - one of those "Perk up a mood by looking good" sort of things. The results were erratic. Perhaps if I was slumming around moodily-lit bars, rather than cut-price fabric stores, more interesting events would have unfolded. As it was, it was a distressingly normal day out. 

I don't know what I was thinking would happen, but clearly, it didn't. 


Dinner with my parents wore my mom out, although I couldn't think of any discreet way to say "Let's go out, instead of cooking" - particularly since I would have to ask for my parents to pay for said going-out. Unsurprisingly, Susan is totally worn out today. I'm doing my best to ignore the guilt demons.


I'm not too happy with myself at the moment. I know, I know, what else is new? But today's dissatisfaction has a particular source. I lost my temper over something that I should have been able to bear with some sort of equanimity - namely, the cat. 

Tigger, being a brain-damaged little beast sometimes expresses himself via pissing on the furniture. It's annoying, but it's not his fault he suffered from exposure when he was dumped as a newborn kitten. Alex and I look out for incidents as best we can, and the addition of Max to the household has proven an unusual boon, as he rarely leaves Tigger alone for any significant amount of time - such as the time required to pee on the sofa. 

So the little fuzzball decided to change his primary canvas from the sofa to the bed. Twice in two days he cut loose on the blankets, soaking clear through to the mattress. Alex and I have a tiny clothes washer and no dryer, so this quickly exhausted our supply of clean blankets. The second incident was discovered by me as I was sliding into bed rather late Monday night. I did not react well. Not only did I rub Tigger's face in the mess twice - grabbing him and dragging him back when he squirmed away the first time - but I also chased him all over the house with the squirt gun for several minutes. By the time I had finished with him, he was soaking wet and running away every time I got near him - go figure.

Did it do the cat any good? Doubtful. I've been rubbing his nose in his 'statements' for six years - ever since I moved in. All it does is make him run away when he gets caught - it doesn't stop him from doing it. Even when 'caught in the cat' - as cats have to be - I've never been able to deter him from the practice. It's the brain damage, you see. So I doubt the spanking I gave his hindquarters whilst his nose was being rubbed did much good either. Or the chasing around the house. 

I just lost my temper and took it out on the dratted cat. How evolved and enlightened of me.

I'm supposed to be better than that, dammit. What's the point of striving for balance, if I can let a neurotic cat blow it all to Hades?

I get very frustrated, at times, by this favorite Siamese of mine. I'm tired of having to ask guests not to sit on the sofa. I'm also tired of having to lock up laundry - clean or dirty - like the gold in Fort Knox to protect it from Tigger's attentions. Following some recent bouts, Alex and I have to put our shoes away in a closed off room (Tigger can open the closets) because he's taken to tinkling on them, too. Fortunately, only a pair of my thrift-store boots have been ruined. Sigh.

He's not pissing because he's upset over something - no cat can be upset for eight years. It's just how he expresses himself. He's mad at the dog for getting up on 'his' sofa, so he pees on it. He likes the soft pile of laundry, so he pees on it. He thinks my shoes smell a little strong, so he... you get the idea. If I didn't know any better, I would think he was neutered too late in life. But he's not spraying like a tomcat (besides, he was fixed at the proper age), he's just pissing on things. Sometimes rather voluminously. 

I'm constantly torn between love for an otherwise sweet and affectionate feline, and constant blithering rage over his latest incident. Then I feel guilty for getting angry and even thinking of suggesting to Alex that we give Tigger to a home for cats with 'special' needs. And that guilt usually keeps me calm until the next incident... Sigh.

Hm, Cat piss, what a great theme for a journal entry. My words to posterity. 


I miss passion. 

There are books dedicated to that subject, I know. But it's hard for me to believe that it can be found again, once lost. Not just physical passion - although that is on the list - but intellectual passion. Why does it seem to dry up as time passes? I used to love fostering ideas, nuturing 'em, making 'em grow. But now... Nothing.


July 29th

Once again, I'm in the free-fall panic of no job, no job offers - an offer I was waiting on fell through - and financial ruin on the horizon. I just love this feeling, really I do. It makes me want to run out and set fires, just to have a feeling of control over something. Fortunately, I'm not the pyromaniac type.


I got heinously drunk on Friday night and did the usual damnfool things - mostly driving drunk on the information superhighway. The tail end of the last entry was written under the influence of several strong margaritas and half a bottle of champagne. And I was drinking like that before I found out my hoped-for offer from Greenman had fallen through. I just drank because I felt like it. I hadn't tied one on since February and, hell, Friday night seemed as good as any other. 

As usual, once the keyboard started doubling and tripling under my fingers and I was having difficulty reading whatever blather I was blathering about on IRC, I took that as my cue to retire and fell into bed. Given that drinking a lot has the predictable effect on my hormones, Alex wasn't too unhappy with his reeling wife.

I'm such a fool, at times.  


Written whilst killing time outside a coffee shop.

A sense of once again being surrounded by strangers, with their own concerns and worries. The feeling of "otherness" is almost a relief - a chance to gaze outwards and eavesdrop, to speculate rather than brood. Not a reconnection, but a realization of being disconnected. 
Sitting beneath a towering enclosure (a veranda? a balustrade?) of grimy, polished pink granite. Men in mid-priced suits with celphones welded to their ears stride by in a rustle of rumpled wool-poly blend. A weary looking blonde, too. Her arms are crossed over her chest, restricting a gauzy vest which is trying to flap in the occasional breeze. She's clutching a cigarette in one hand, her eyes dull and expression inward.


I'm never going to leave this place, am I? I'll never have the financial wherewithal and the guts to get out of the Bay Area. I don't know if this makes me happy or sad. I've got separation issues - anyone who has had to deal with me during one of my "Olde Country" crying jags after a few beers knows that. Once I leave a place, I'm gone forever. There might be visits, yes, even wistful talk of returning. But it'll never happen. Gone is gone.

Maybe I just don't want to face that idea - of leaving the Bay Area and not coming back. I'll kvetch about this place at times - alright, frequently - but I like it too. I doubt I have the courage and spine to make friends in a new place, get so settled in a strange area that I will feel as comfortable there as I do here in the suburban sprawl of the east bay. 

Now, if I can just shut up that little voice that says "Is this it? Is this all I get?", and I'll be fine. 


What's the point of having ambition? My cowardice gets me every time. 

June 2002          August 2002