Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Fool

In the name of giving myself a break this week while I still get settled into my new job, I've pulled an excerpt from my journal.  No, it's not a recent entry. But, I find it entertaining.  I hope you enjoy it.  I did when I found it last week.  


Loneliness crept up on me the other day.  So, I naturally went to shuffle my tarot cards to read myself a fortune—or rather, to keep reading my cards until I got a good one.

About halfway through shuffling I had a sudden out of body experience and saw myself in that moment, sitting cross-legged in my childhood bedroom, sharing the wall with my parents, about to read my tarot cards. 

I had reached a new level of teenage regression that even for me was too much.

So, I packed up the cards and went scrolling around Facebook (as usual).  There are a couple profiles of friends I always end up commenting on, if not routinely right back on my own to respond to the messages I got for the day.  When I went to my list of latest posts I couldn’t help but notice a girl I’ve had a crush for a year or more has interacted with a couple things I had thrown out onto the Face earlier that day.

She had posted a response, she had obviously liked a link I had posted because it had coincidentally been linked again on her page right after I had said something on hers, which also tells me that she went to my profile—and success!

She had to have looked at my profile!  My face was in front of her face!  I might not have been aware of it at the time… but what of that?  There’s no need for retrospective speculation.  I am just burbling with joy that she even looked me up.  And thus, the pitiful, foolish, ritual begins anew.

Saying, "You Do It, Too" Just Means We're Both Creepy

Whenever I happen to find someone I like on Facebook I have a ritual I go through. I've asked around and I'm not alone in this.  Facebook allows us to anonymously snoop without feeling bad because of the Golden Internet Rule:  Post unto others as you would have posted about you.  Aka, if she didn't want me to see it then why make it public?  But, this girl decided to not publicly declare whether or not she likes girls.  How dare she.

Rather than just plain asking her (because that would be too scary) when the girl popped back under my radar I returned to her “info” page of her Facebook profile and sat and went through every bit of information as if the secret to her sexuality were right there sitting in front of me.  

I just have to crack the code, I tell myself—get enough evidence, find the secret out.  It's all right there in front of me because who we are is what we love (negating the fact that we sometimes fluff our profiles to look better for others to see).  And if she's straight (by my rubric) then it's my loss and I should move on.  If she's not, then I can allow myself the luxury of hoping I'll catch her eye one day in the future.

I always check first to see if her preference for guys or girls is even listed—but of course, that is ever vacant, which causes me to become all the more curious.  Why wasn’t it posted?  Is she just afraid of weird lesbians trolling around on Facebook searching for any sign of The Gay because in actuality you leaving that information hidden just makes weird lesbians search for signs of The Gay.  

just… I can’t let it go.  That’s the problem.  I think if I had got the message long ago that she was completely utterly straight, I’d be far less interested and burning with curiosity not knowing and always wondering if I just made it up in my head that she could be queer.  

Objects In Rearview May Appear Gayer Than Before

Gaydar is funny this way; to those who have it, usually it means you get a slight tingling sensation about a person that you have more in common than your Buffy DVD collection.  It grows subtly inside of you until that perfect moment he/she says something along the lines of "I was reading the latest Sarah Waters novel the other day," and BOOM.  You knew you were right.

For me, Gaydar is unfortunately retrospective.   

So, I surf past the “Relationship status” on her page as always with a grimace—it’s the steady reminder that “even if her sexuality was listed this doesn’t change anything—remember she’s with so-and-so and you’re definitely not so-and-so.”

At least, that blue underlined link is not to my Facebook profile.*

Anyway, I go back to the meat of my possible discovery—I feel like an archeologist, sifting through minuscule remnants of stone and bog-preserved tissue, trying to piece together the truth I know existed at one point.

My criteria?  There isn't much to go on.  But, it's all I've got:  her favorite books, movies and tv shows which, arguably, could be all within the same bracket of criteria. These are the things that emotionally stuck with her that she would like to share with other people. It’s likely she will not list her ex-girlfriends and boyfriends, you see.  

So, I pull on my mental archeologist outfit and get to work.

I begin by scouring these titles.  And it is then that I turn into Superficial Beryl.  Every title places an invisible hash mark under either “queer” or “straight” in my head.  And it is through this ridiculous rubric I make up on the spot that I try to figure out her level of queerness.

Do You Have a (Rainbow) Flag?

No flag, no queer community.  Those are the rules I've just made up.  If there was an App for this--there should be an app for this--I would call it:  The Queerubric.  You plug in a title.  It tells you if its fans are queer or not with 80% accuracy. What?  I'm no Steve Jobs.  80% accuracy is good enough.

I start off with Favorite books:

Jane Eyre… straight… Pride and Prejudice...straight…** 

But, as with any rubric, I quickly feel constrained and start adding categories to take off the edge of disappointment and leave wiggle room for change:

Never Let Me Go… straight and secretly masochistic…Harry Potter... straight but British...

Not getting the answers to my Queerubric I wanted, I move on to movies:

Love Actually… hopelessly romantic but hopelessly straight… 

It isn't looking promising.  But then, within the folds of blue verdana comes...


It's like a beacon.  A giant, Joss-Whedon-shaped beacon.  

Queer, point 1.

Success.  I greedily read on, heading into TV shows.  Suddenly, I see the queer in everything.

Shakespeare in Love….drama geek...and/or queer ... Bones… queer… 30 Rock… bi-curious tennis shoes… The Office… UK version = queer, US version = not as good either way… Lost…annoying either way…Babylon 5…queer…

And then finally, as a finale to this whole dehumanizing--not for her, for me, realizing that underneath it all I really am just this superficial--experience, I reach favorite music.

The Beatles…pansexual…Joni Mitchell… straight, but depressed… Rufus Wainwright… queer but male…Fiona Apple… female, but straight and self-destructive…Damien Rice…interested in women but male and self-destructive… Sondheim… genius either way… Tegan and Sara…

Wait...Tegan and Sara?


That’s when I stop stalking her profile and figure “I’ve got my answer.”  I smugly smile to myself and think “It’s fine.  She’s secretly gay and doesn’t know it.” I’ll just sit and wait here, I think.  I’ll just sit and wait here…as I’ve been waiting for the past couple years.

That’s when I pull out the tarot cards again.

*Am I the only one wary of setting a relationship status with someone new?  Ending a relationship on Facebook and changing your status from "in a relationship" to "single" is the worst; you have to cancel your relationship.  Cancel.  Like a dentist appointment.

**It should go without saying but one of my favorite stories (and BBC mini series ever) is Pride & Prejudice.  By my own rubric I am possibly straight.  And given that 80% accuracy rate for this app of mine, I am now questioning if in fact I am.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Prune Trees and Bimmers


I've had a couple of oddball stories winding around my way.  So, we're going to have a new installment today of mini-stories.  I won't say short-stories because technically they're not even that long.

Starting last Sunday I went to go hang with my grandpa.  We just recently buried my grandma's ashes and to tell you the truth, I'm not sure how well he is doing.  Hell, I'm not sure how well *I'd* be doing under the circumstances.  So, I show up and I bring him homemade pot pie.  The pie went down well enough and we sat, watching the classical music ARTs channel while I put photos away that had been piling up.  About halfway through putting the photos away--mostly of people I don't know--one fell out onto my lap.   It was a very nice, beautifully pristine black & white photo.  I recognized not one but two faces, both very young--painfully young, smiling sweet.  It was my grandma and grandpa's wedding photo, decked out in white--both of them, my grandpa had a white suit on--and my grandma was wearing a classic 40's pinched shoulder dress.  I looked up and there he was, smiling in the same way, but far more wrinkles.  He was happily telling me about  the Prune Tree Farm in California his father's father had owned.


For the past week or two I've been car shopping.  Usually, when I involve myself in any sort of Big Buy or Life Altering Moment I tend to curl up inside into a little ball of nerves.  And not unlike the process of a star turning into a black hole (bear with me, I've been watching How the Universe Works for the past four days straight) the pressure of my nerves has actually caused me to draw further within myself.  I've become quiet.  I've become taciturn (at least, I think so).  

My mother, who hasn't bought a car in 22 years, very kindly took on the task of being my wing woman throughout the car-appraising process.  That translated into Mom being the Good Cop and Beryl being the Bad Cop.

Good Cop Mom: "It's got a sunroof?"
Bad Cop Beryl: "How many miles does it have?  Show me the Carfax.  What do you mean you don't allow a mechanic to check it out first?"
Good Cop Mom:  "Beryl, it's got a sunroof--AND heated seats!"

It was a confusing time for all.

One particular car caught my eye.  It was a 2003 BMW 3 Series sedan, steel blue.  All you need to know from those words is that it's blue with four doors and isn't ridiculously old.  The Toyota Camry you see everywhere?  Same year.  Same color.  It caught my eye because it was relatively young and in my price range and also holy mother goose, Batman, it was a Friggin' BMW.  Plus, I have been worried I'd end up with a Lesbian Car, aka a Subaru Outback (Sorry, Alex) or a Hipster Car, aka a 1991 Volvo sedan (no, Mom, this doesn't make you a Hipster).  I've wanted an Outback for a while but the reality is I don't even fake going camping nearly as much as that kind of car implies.  Plus, I am not fashionable enough to pull off the hipster ironically retro look.

So, I walk over to the dealer, who looks like he just walked off the set of a bad mafia movie, and say to him, "I'm interested in the BMW over there--the blue one.  Can I do a test drive?"  I take note of my surroundings as I say this:  The cars around me look nice enough.  But, the dealers have also got a mobile home for temporary office space, which to me signifies less that they're being low-budget and more that they have a get away car for an office.

He disappears into the Office On Wheels and comes back, shoving his hand through the air a couple times at his 20-something mechanic to go pull it out for me.  He then turns to me and pushes the key in my direction:

"You drive car now."

I take a moment to let that sink in.  I want to make a comment about Mother Russia, but I found it inopportune as this man was likely to decide the price on the car.  I did not want the conversation to go as such:

Beryl:  "Is that price fixed or can it change?"
Surly Dealer:  "No, it's not fixed.  For you?  5,000 more."

I ended up not only test driving, but re-test driving it, bringing my father along to drive it, bringing a mechanic to test drive, and then buying it.

So.  I have a car now.  And yes, it's a Friggin' BMW.  As Mother Good Cop says, "And Beryl, let me tell you, this is no Lesbian car."


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Holiday Cards 2011

I should go into business as a card vender.  After a year of blogging, I think I've got it all covered at this point.

Seriously, I love the holidays.  When the weather turns to more windy and rain I love to walk around or go for runs.  When the leaves get crunchy underfoot I am all over them, making mulch faster than my sidewalk trees can absorb them.  And the scarves--don't even get me started on the scarves.  I have more scarves than I have neck.  Even if I were a Giraffe there would still be too much scarf.

I think the reason why holidays are so wonderful for me is that I had a good association with them, growing up in the olde towne Alameda--or as I like to call it, The Island.  Alameda is one of the few remaining places in the Bay Area that is definitely old fashioned.  If we could afford one, we'd have a debutant ball--that's how old fashioned we are.  Although, I did have my own Coming Out party.  But, that had a different theme altogether. 

Anyway, anyway, the holiday season is now well underway.  Last year I made my own turkey, I helped decorate here and even threw a gingerbread house making party.  This year, I am slightly worried holidays will slip past me.  I just barely got a pumpkin carved the night before Halloween and already we're into the first week of November.  So, for now, I give you...

Not-so-Limited Edition Life and Beryl Holiday Cards

There's your classic Thanksgiving Card:

"Turkey:  $18.  Holiday themed centerpiece:  $30.  The therapy induced from getting together with the family:  priceless." 

Christmas cards for the disenchanted friend, who believes Santa to be a deranged drunk that defecates in your front garden:

Birthday cards for that loner, literary figure in your family who needs to lighten up:
And of course, my favorite holiday--Halloween:

"Scared yet?"


p.s. Seriously, if you are interested in Life and Beryl cards--what in the hell is wrong with your local card shop? Just steal these and print them out on your printer and go support a local business instead.  Seriously.  It's what I do.