October 29, 2001

Well, the Halloween season is well upon us. I've been busy with events lately and costume gathering and decorating. I love Halloween. It's my favorite holiday.

Last Tuesday I went to the Haight to gather the final elements of my costume. My costume this year is a gold fairy. My friend Kelly and I went to the Piedmont Boutique, apparently a mecca for drag queens. There I found my third pair of shoes for my costume. I had bought two pairs at Ross, one for the Castro, the other for my friend Angie's party. The Castro ones were comfortable but not terribly attractive. The party ones were gorgeous but high heeled and I'd kick them off after about 10 minutes. In the Piedmont, I found these great shoes, gold sequined, and in my size, just waiting there for me it seemed. They were perfect for my outfit and comfortable enough to wear to the party in a club that I'd won tickets to. I ended up wearing them to Angie's party as well. Then we picked up fabric for my wings and skirt, both of which Kelly made for me. The skirt is great, but the wings are just gorgeous.

Wednesday I decorated the office. I do this every year. The first year I was at this job I decorated for Halloween, Christmas (rather the Winter Holidays), St. Patrick's Day, and Easter. Last year it was just Halloween and Christmas. This year we'll see. But Halloween is always a must. I have a strange need to do it at night, after everyone else has left the office. I enjoy that moment when people come in in the morning and their eyes light up at all the pumpkins and spiders and ghosts. I don't even decorate at home because it's not as much fun if hardly anyone sees it.

Thursday I had a work party. Friday I went to the radio party. Kelly wore his sheep costume. It wasn't as much fun as I'd hoped, but I had a nice time with Kelly.

Saturday I went to Angie's party. It was fun, lots of people dressed up. Angie's roommates have lots of male friends who came in drag. I noted that only men would wear skirts as short as these. They had a firepit in the back yard and with the night being unusually warm despite the fog coming it, it was just the perfect temperature from where I sat. Angie's roommate Major did a lipsync to Lady Marmalade the Moulin Rouge version. Major looked great in drag.

I was impressed at the number of people who actually dressed up. It's hard sometimes to get people to wear costumes even at Halloween. On the other hand, it is San Francisco. Major and I were discussing how it would be nice if people could come to our parties in costume all the time. Angie had a trauma with her costume. A woman was making her a Wonder Woman costume and it turned out horribly. It didn't seem to slow her down any. She looked great in a black dress, feather boa, dog collar and leash, and leopard print slippers. She seemed excited at the idea of me putting this pic on my site so here it is:

Sunday I went to my sister's birthday dinner. We went to Clementine and the food was great as usual. It's a French place on Clement that's reasonably priced and very good. My sister's birthday was actually last week, but she'd gone away with her husband for the actual day so we celebrated yesterday.

Today I'm home sick. With all these events, Friday night I got a sore throat. I felt worse as the weekend wore on to the point where I was dreading doing anything else. Finally this morning I put my foot down and stayed in bed. Sometimes I have to be firm with myself. I missed singing class which was very sad, though I doubt I would have sounded very good with all the phlegm. I'll go to work tomorrow; I have to. And Wednesday is Halloween and I don't want to miss that. I have to go to the Castro. I just hope I survive.

I love that the busiest time of the year socially for me is Halloween rather than Christmas. I just wish getting sick hadn't been thrown into the mix. And then everyone keeps suggesting I have anthrax. Ah well, it is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year after all.

Posted by Alyssa at 11:44 PM
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October 22, 2001

Mondays are often kind of hard for me. It's tough to get up in the morning. Tough to get out of the house in the morning. Lots of work to do at the office. It can be very stressful.

Often the best part of my day is singing class. I go every Monday night. I took it largely to get over a severe fear of singing in front of people. I love to sing and have a decent voice but I was always afraid to sing in front of people and tended to choke when I did. I remember one terrible audition for Damn Yankees in high school. I nailed the acting part but when I sang I just lost it. Over the years I've gotten more confident so I thought it was time to fight this particular fear.

So I had singing class tonight and I choked a little. I was more nervous than I've been in months of classes for some reason. I was shaking. I sang about half the song out of tune.

And yet I walked out of class exhilarated, as usual. There's the adrenaline from being terrified; there's the thrill from the music. But most of all I feel exhilarated because I got up in front of people and sang my heart out. I sang loudly and boldly. It's a long way from the days when I would mouth the words in choir, afraid that I might sing the wrong note. (I never told anyone that before--that's kind of exhilarating too.)

So I was walking home, singing to myself, feeling exhilarated. Then I put on my headphones and started listening to the radio. I was walking along, thinking vaguely about hopping on the train, when they announced it was time to call in to win tickets to a Halloween party hosted by the station. I've been calling in periodically, trying to win tickets. Not really trying hard. But I pulled out my phone and dialed.

Shockingly, I got a ring instead of a busy signal. I stopped walking so I wouldn't be breathless. I waited as the phone rang many times. Finally the DJ picked up and I won the tickets! I was pretty excited, as I never win those radio things.

Well, once a couple of years ago, when I was lying in bed dozing after my then-boyfriend had gotten up to watch football or something, the radio was on and I heard them accepting callers to win Billy Bragg tickets. Even half asleep, I reached over and dialed the phone number. I got the tickets. But that's the only other time.

Then when I put the radio back on, after I hung up, they announced me and the other two winners. Mine was the reaction they put on the air. I thought that was pretty cool.

So I continued walking home, more energetic than ever, deciding to walk the whole way instead of copping out and taking the train. I was only going to take the train because it was late and dark.

As I walked, as I got further into the Sunset, I looked up and noticed the stars. In much of the rest of the world, that's not unusual, you can see stars most nights. But in SF it's completely dependent on the weather and smog. It's more common not to see the stars than to see them. Especially in the Sunset, when fog is the norm. But tonight I looked up and there were the stars. And the more I looked, the more I saw. I just stopped on a street corner and stared, head back. It was beautiful.

I walked on. As I topped the hill and started down toward the ocean, past Sunset Blvd., the wind was incredible. I walk straight toward the ocean and the wind pushed me back, plastered my jeans against my legs, was crisp and cold against my cheeks. It felt really good. The best part was my hair flying out behind me like a flag. It takes a lot of wind to grab my hair these days, it's so heavy. But it's the greatest feeling when it does, when the wind lifts this weight off my neck and it's like dozens of fingers running through my hair.

By the time I got home I was euphoric. I like a day that covers all the emotions. Especially when it ends with the best ones.

Posted by Alyssa at 11:00 PM
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October 20, 2001

Well, I'm back from my trip. I saw beautiful colored leaves, I ate fresh tart apples and cheese curds. I got my fall fix. Now I'm back in SF where the seasons change from week to week without ever really settling on one.

I went to see a movie today. Yes, something I do reasonably often, in fact the second time in 3 days. I went to the Metreon. The last time I went to the Metreon on a Saturday for a movie the trip there was the problem. This time, the Metreon was the problem.

I went to see From Hell about Jack the Ripper, Johnny Depp and Heather Graham. Mmm, Johnny Depp.... He could read the phone book and I would sit rapt. Anyway, it was going pretty well, I was enjoying it, I had my Diet Pepsi and a snack I'd bought at Walgreens (I'm economizing these days, much to my dismay, and Metreon priced soda and popcorn is not in the budget).

Then about 1/2 an hour from the end of the movie the screen goes dark. There's the sound of an alarm. I thought it was part of the movie for a moment. Then this bright flash of light started coming from the side of the theater. I looked at it thinking it was an usher or a cop with a flashlight. Then people started leaving. Eventually it sunk in that it was a fire alarm. I didn't think twice, just grabbed my stuff and started hurrying out with everyone else. There was a time I would have thought twice.

The guy behind me said, "Wow, everyone's really leaving. It's a different world these days." And we didn't just leave through the theater doors into the lobby, we all went out the exit doors and out into the streets. We couldn't be too careful.

It all worked out ok in the end, I wandered back into the Metreon after I saw people on the first floor still filling the stores and restaurants and I figured the place wasn't going to explode or anything. After waiting awhile for a refund, they said we could go back to the theaters and finish our movies, which I did.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the climate of our country, as I suppose everyone else has. I keep thinking how maddening it is that the little things we do in life, open mail, go to movies, fly on planes; have all been tinged with fear. I can't get on a plane without having nightmares about terrorists. I can't pick up the mail at work without thinking it feels gritty and worrying about anthrax. I can't go to the movies and just ignore the fire alarm as a child's prank, which is probably what it turned out to be this time. It's incredibly sad.

Then I think what it must be like to have grown up in Afghanistan, or black in South Africa, or in the former Yugoslavia, or Iran, or Iraq, or Lebanon, or Libya...

We're new to our fear, which is why we're so angry about it. There are those who never knew anything else. I'll take my fear over their fear any day. It's still ugly, but at least it's not something I think about every second of every day of my life. And that's still something.

Posted by Alyssa at 10:53 PM
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October 13, 2001

I'm still in Iowa, but I couldn't resist the novelty of posting a blog from here on my grandfather's laptop.

I survived the plane trip. However, I did have a dream while sleeping on the plane (I'd only gotten 4 hours of sleep the night before, having had to wake up at 4 to get the shuttle at 5 to get to the airport at 6 for a flight at 8. And it was a good thing to be early--let me tell you, the lines were loooooooong.) that there was a detective or marshall on the plane who looked like Michael Nouri (anyone know who he is besides me? Anyway, he's an actor.) and he was looking for a terrorist on the plane. I was with him for some reason, I suppose I'd found out what he was up to and he enlisted my help. Stuff like that happens in dreams and movies. Finally he figured out that the pilot was the terrorist. We went into the cockpit and confronted him. He denied it at first then he pulled out a gun and shot his copilot, assuming he would be left alive and not in custody because we needed him to land the plane. A bunch of passengers rushed to the cockpit to see what had happened. Naturally, Michael Nouri knew how to land the plane. He put the pilot in custody. The next picture I saw was the plane coming down for a landing very very close to Minneapolis. When I was awake, I was surprised that as we landed we were nowhere near tall city buildings. Just as well really.

Well, tomorrow we're off from my grandparents' to go into Wisconsin for cheese and apples and trees colored in reds, oranges, and bright gold. That's my favorite part of this trip. Don't get me wrong, I love my grandparents, but where we are in Iowa there's not much more to do than go to Walmart and Goodwill, which my mom and I did already today. Actually, Goodwill was pretty great--I got a kick ass coat that would have easily cost $40 or $50 in a vintage shop in SF for only $6.95. Can't beat that.

Anyway, we're off to cheesehead land tomorrow and that will be nice. It rained today and there was a threat of snow but it never got cold enough. But it does have that crisp fall feel to it here, something I sort of miss in California. In SF we get that cold, but it's too mixed with fog and ocean and lack of trees to have the correct smell and texture. Anyone from the Midwest or East Coast will know what I'm talking about.

So I'm getting a taste of that this weekend and that will carry me through until next year. Assuming I survive my flight home. Sorry, but somehow I think if I don't say that it will just encourage fate to throw a wrench in. Now that fate knows I consider it a possibility, hopefully it will leave me alone.

Posted by Alyssa at 11:00 PM
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October 11, 2001

I haven't written at all this week. I've been busy getting stuff done in preparation for going away this weekend. I'm flying. I'm generally speaking not a happy flyer. The flying is fine, the idea of crashing is not so fine. Now I'm even less thrilled with the idea. I keep hearing new stories that make me worried.

For instance: "WASHINGTON, Oct. 11 The FBI said Thursday that new terrorist attacks may be planned inside the United States or abroad in the next several days, and asked local police to be on the highest alert and all Americans to be wary of suspicious activity."

I'm going to Iowa, the home of the stollen Anthrax virus that killed the man in Florida. I'm on a somewhat long flight, 3 1/2 hours. And it's the first time anyone I know has flown since Sept. 11, which concerns me in the world of fiction.

I sometimes imagine what would happen in a situation if it was in a novel. It worries me when something in my life is too close to a perfect scenario in a novel. Usually I think of the worst that can happen. I'm almost afraid to say it for fear of tempting fate, but I'm flying with my parents. I imagine our plane crashing, my sister losing her whole family in one blow, the next tragic act of terrorism, my sister on the Today show talking to Katie.

I found myself very stressed out today at work. It was partly everything I had to get done so I could leave; but I realized that what was causing my nerves to stretch to their limit was the idea of flying. Deep down I know everything will be ok. I know that security's better than it ever was and it's probably safer to fly now than it was on my previous flights. But my mild fear of flying isn't anything rational.

So I just pack up everything I need, think about getting away from my regular life for awhile, plan several books to read during the flights, and hope for the best. I don't know what else there is to do, other than not fly. And I won't do that, change my plans out of fear. I'm not a flag waver, saying we should spend all our money to help the economy, standing defiant in the face of violence. But I don't think I should let some suicidal fanatics keep me from doing something I want or need to do. So I will fly tomorrow. I will be at the airport at an ungodly hour so I can have hours to get through security. And I'm sure it will all be fine. If not, this will be my last entry. Hmm, my last words... Hmmmm...

"Action is eloquence."
- Shakespeare, Coriolanus, III, ii

Posted by Alyssa at 11:24 PM
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October 04, 2001

Pregnancy Watch 2001--Final Edition

Kaitlynn Rose

Posted by Alyssa at 08:25 PM
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October 02, 2001

Time for another links musings. I woke up this morning to Tony Blair. They were broadcasting his speech live from London, which amounted to 6:30 a.m. here. I had fallen asleep to the TV as usual. Tony's words slowly worked their way into my consciousness until finally I was awake and watching him. He had some good things to say. He made me feel strong and happy. He made me wish he was American and would switch places with W.

Tony Blair: "There is a coming together. The power of community is asserting itself. We are realising how fragile are our frontiers in the face of the world's new challenges," he said.

I had a couple of "only in SF" moments today. I love those.

"San Francisco prosecutors are calling on all hairdressers to help raise awareness about domestic violence by receiving training on how to help their clients who may be victims at some point."

"San Francisco officials have voted to ban Internet filters on computers in local public libraries, risking the loss of some $20,000 in federal funds."

I find the idea of Brain Fingerprinting a little scary, a little spy movie-ish, but hell, if it works... "Brain fingerprinting--a simple computerized test that takes 10 minutes to give and requires no human intervention--has, according to Steve, proven infallible in FBI and U.S. Navy testing. It has been touted as being able to accurately identify trained terrorists before they can board planes or even enter the country."

Here's a point of view about the attacks on New York that I hadn't heard before: "Two weeks after seeing the "heartbreaking" attack on New York City from 250 miles up, the commander of the international space station says orbiting Earth makes him appreciate the planet more than ever."

Posted by Alyssa at 10:31 PM
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