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Showing posts from 2019
I did at one point promise to try to explain the Eccentric to you all. I just remarked to one of my other friends that he picks up dance partners like the BDSM people pick up play partners. Might as well start there.

In kinkster terms, a "play partner" is someone you get together with and act out your fantasy BDSM scenarios. The relationship is not considered romantic; it's not that kind of intertwined partnership. But to be effective play partners, you do have to click really hard, and be pretty good friends, or your weird little hobby isn't going to work right.

There is an established etiquette for picking up play partners. You have to be respectful, but also very, very straightforward about what you're looking for. You are negotiating unusual boundaries around things that most people find emotionally sensitive. If you have a romantic partner, it is also considered important to be up front about that and be willing to introduce your prospective play partners to…
I always have a hell of a time finding jobs. The conventional wisdom is that it's easier to find a job if you have a job, so take whatever you can get and keep looking. Unfortunately, the McJobs of the world don't want me. Employers who just need a warm body who can show up sober-ish and demonstrate a basic skill do not call me back. A temp agency got me an interview once -- once -- with someone who needed a phone dispatcher. It went very confusingly until the hiring manager and I compared paperwork and realized that the resume the agency had sent him was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the resume I had sent them. He then told me, and this is an actual quote, "You're too smart to be here," and that was the end of that. The only time I ever managed to get one of those jobs was by volunteering to work graveyard, which everyone else hates, and by lying on the application and telling them I'd dropped out of college.

I've been bidding on pet-sitting on …
If I read one more article on "Marilyn Monroe's dress size", I am going to roll my eyes so hard I will be stuck staring at my own frontal lobe.

Marilyn Monroe did not have a dress size. She had a range of measurements which would not have fit into any commercial garment, or commercial garment pattern, then or now, without extensive modification. The reason she looked so good all the time is that literally everything she wore was either custom made for her, or tinkered with by a dressmaker who knew their stuff. You will not look like that in anything you buy from a store. Marilyn Monroe would not look like that in anything she bought from a store. Clothing just does not come in that shape.

This rant is inspired by a shopping trip I took last week. I went to buy jeans, because A) it's my birthday on Monday, and B) all of my pants are falling off again. I blocked out an entire afternoon for this. Partly that was me assuming that if I wanted to get a pair of jeans that w…
I read a lot of advice columns. It's the best way I know to keep track of what people think of as normal. Not what's actually normal, mind you -- that is, what most of the people do most of the time. Just what people think should be normal, which is a different thing. One where I make a habit of lurking is the r/relationships subreddit. It has a decent mix of ordinary, mostly-functional folk, batshit crazy people with good intentions, and the usual appallingly sexist internet scum. The posts tend to get repetitive, what with everybody having to learn their life lessons the hard way, but as of late I've seen a new sort of post crop up. The question is something to the effect of, "My partner has announced they're non-binary, and as they've started presenting less masculine/feminine, I'm less attracted to them. Am I the asshole for wanting to break up?" Surprisingly (for the internet), the answer is usually no. They get the same sorts of responses that …
By the time you all read this, I will have spent an evening performing with my flamenco teacher and a few of my classmates, with a live symphony orchestra, in front of I don't know a few hundred people. I am asked on a regular basis if this makes me nervous.

Short answer: No.

Longer, more accurate answer: People freak out over being on stage mainly because it represents something that makes them significantly more nervous than other things they do, on account of the perceived consequences for screwing up. Performing in front of a crowd does not make me any more anxious than anything else in my life. The actual consequences for screwing up on stage are that you will have made a mistake in front of a crowd. The actual consequences for screwing up other things I deal with all the time are dying of starvation, homeless and alone, under an overpass somewhere on the outskirts of Boston. In comparison, "a bunch of strangers think I look silly" is not anything of note. I get up …
TIL I would fit into Marlene Dietrich's clothing.

There's an exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts right now called Gender-Bending Fashion. It has the array of glam rock costumes (Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones) you'd expect, as well as modern pieces from couture runway shows. Some of the pieces are considerably older -- there are Edwardian women's "suits" á la Titanic that took their inspiration from men's business attire, and sporting and driving gear of similar vintage. A few of the outfits there belonged to Marlene Dietrich, who spent an awful lot of her career borderline crossdressing. One of them is the tuxedo she wore in the nightclub scene from Morocco, embedded at right.

All of the old clothing looks pretty small by modern standards. People are generally both taller and broader than they were in a hundred years ago, mostly owing to improved nutrition across the board. (Yes, there's a lot of crap out there these days, but we also put vitamin…
I'm still alive. Sort of.

In the past few weeks, I've had a grand total of twenty-one hours where things felt like they were going reasonably all right. Twenty-one. I went back and checked timestamps and counted.

I landed a short-term gig teaching dance for a bunch of kids. It wasn't absurdly lucrative, but if I could earn that much money every week I'd be fine long-term. I was on site for 6 hours a day M-Th and had a four hour evening on Friday. I wasn't even running around with the kids for all that much of it, I just had class periods separated by free time. It ruined me to the point where I was having trouble feeding myself and showering consistently. I would get out of there and try desperately to get something useful done and just stare at a wall, if I didn't lay down "just for a minute" and wake up hours later.

I don't think it's necessarily the physical activity that's the problem. I can do four hours of hardcore dancing in a day…
Not all relationship work is worth doing.

People become more who they are over time. It's not always bad; it is almost always a little bit weird, but that's because "normal" is a theoretical construct. A little awkwardness is charming when it's one of your friends. Other times, it's a disaster.

I've recently had occasion to work with another artist on something. I'd known them casually before, in a related context. They were always cranky, but the main crank was centered around a day job they loathed. I know how much having to get up every damn day and do something that's destroying your soul can fuck up the rest of your life, so okay.

This assumption was... incorrect. The details are too identifiable to share, and the point here is my own thought process and not other people's dysfunction, but the more time I spent with them, the farther afield the complaints started to range. The list of topics it was unwise to bring up in conversation grew …
There is a school of thought that good relationships require effort, but should not need work. You mostly see it quoted at people who want help with their love lives, but it sometimes pops up in the context of family issues, and rarely for friendships. I'm not sure I agree. It depends, I think, on what kind of work you're talking about. Is it work you want to do for your own sake? Does the other person give you room to do it? Do you feel like the relationship is worth the work involved?

I have had to think quite a lot about relationships in the past couple of months, on top of the actual practical work I've been doing. When you work in the arts, your business relationships are also your friendships. It's got pros and cons. I stay adamantly freelance mainly so that I can be prickly about the cons, because they are way up there on the list of things that will tank my mental state. The pros are a helluva thing, though.

Ye Ballroom Instructor and I each have our own demons…
So the confusing unexpected birthday party went pretty okay. And by 'pretty okay' I mean the room as a whole achieved a level of drunkenness that inspired everyone to share reminiscences of previous instances of drunkenness. It turns out that several of the old guard went to college together, so I got to hear tales of shit-faced shenanigans that occurred while I was still learning to walk. One of them brought his sister, with whom I had a thoughtful discussion about how tequila is a series of terrible decisions in a bottle. Helpful hint: When someone starts out their story with a trick question like, "Okay, if you were completely hammered, would you rather crawl naked into bed with [dude who is standing RIGHT THERE, participating in the conversation], or crawl naked into bed with a total stranger?" the only reasonable response is to pause thoughtfully for half a second and say, "Well, what does this total stranger look like?" I didn't get to hear the re…
Still can't wrap my head around being invited to this birthday party. There isn't technically a C-suite, as we're a non-profit and everyone answers to the board, but there are executive operating officers, and the guest of honor at the party is top one. It is beyond me why anyone would think I'd be invited to this in the first place. I find it interesting that someone coming in from the outside looked at me in situ and came to that conclusion. The rest of them are shocked when I demonstrate knowledge of something they had an entire meeting about, four feet from the reception desk where I was working, in a totally empty lobby. I literally have nothing better to do than knit and eavesdrop. Have none of them ever read a Miss Marple book?

On va voir what will happen when I actually show up to the birthday party. Mr New York Producer-Person will probably be delighted; other people might be confused. The director will probably be mildly surprised. I seem to have inserted myse…
About a week ago, I crewed a show at the studio theater for a non-profit outfit up from New York. The guys who run it are friends of our executive artistic director, and they come up two or three times a year. I like them; I dealt with them a bunch when I was at the box office, because when you're the most experienced person they have around they hand you all of the EAD's friends, and I have an unofficial standing request to work their shows even when I'm not the only crew who is both in town and not drowning in finals.

One of the guys, as it turns out, is laid up with an injury right now, so the other one had to fly solo, on top of performing in the show. I ran into him coming down the stairs as I was going up, and as soon as he saw me he just lit up like, oh, it's you! How are you are you working are you going to be my box office again! I told him I'd swapped over to doing tech and he asked if I was disappointed that I didn't get to dress up anymore.

I'm …
I am so tired.

I just did a month with no days off. That wasn't how I scheduled it, but people kept asking me for things. Please fix my dress, please feed my cats. I can't turn down things that pay money, and there's a pretty hard limit to how much I can do in one day, so it ends up spread out.

I tried doing this last summer, with the bonus of having an early (for me) call to a film set. That didn't work well either. I get erratic when I'm that tired, emotionally unstable, and lose my ability to do basic goddamn math. I've had some "free time" since then, but spent it mostly in bed, which means I'm now behind on basic life tasks like laundry and email and feeding myself.

When I have no breathing room, I get anxious about everything. Every social interaction looks like it's going wrong. Every piece of choreography feels like I've got my feet in the wrong place.

It's especially bad when I have to buy something. Fucking bath towels. I'…
I have been trying, and failing, to write more about dancing with the Eccentric. The problem I keep running into is that it's difficult to phrase everything in a way that doesn't sound either like some sort of abstract head trip, or a thinly-veiled euphemism for sex. It isn't either of those things, but it is significant. He's spent the past year pressing some interesting buttons -- kindly, and with my permission, but pressing them repeatedly nonetheless.

The Eccentric wants a high level of emotional intimacy from his dance partners. This isn't an inference I've made; this is an actual conversation I have had with him, about why he dances, and what he wants out of me. He is not kidding. I've been the FWB for people in open relationships before, but this is the first time I've run into someone who's allowed to have... uh, 'feelings-buddies'? I guess? Not even "allowed" so much as I think he just ran his life this way until he found …

Emotional Valance

I went out dancing after work a couple of weeks ago. Apparently I am a person who does that now. I try not to think about it too hard. This is my strategy for pretty much anything that involves the Eccentric.

The club our group descended upon does salsa and bachata. Bachata is notorious for making boyfriends angry. This is because it often looks like this. It doesn't have to, but you do get pretty close. A lot of the directionality and rhythm from the lead actually comes through your right knee, so you pretty much have to be in each other's pockets the whole time.

Properly executed, bachata combines two of the Eccentric's favorite things in the whole wide world: Showing off, and being used as a giant teddy bear. He is very cuddly. His friend-radius is about five inches, give or take. At one point about two weeks into our acquaintance, he was telling me all about how I'd get a chance to meet his wife when she came to the show that night, while standing practically on my…

Introspection: Day Four

I've just quit a horrible job.

It didn't start horrible. It was a seasonal gig. I re-upped for several years because it was a lot of fun, and I got to work with artsy weirdos. But I've spent the past few months having an extended conversation with them that can be summarized, from my point of view, thusly:
Me: So, you keep asking me to do things that are physically impossible, like cover the job duties for 2-3 separate positions by myself. You also keep asking me to do things that I am sincerely not comfortable with, like asking me to give additional on-the-job training and directions to my own brand-new supervisor. You would never ask this of any of my coworkers. Please quit asking me.Them: You're right, we would never ask your coworkers to do this. Because of turnover, you have been here many years longer than any of them, a situation which we have chosen not to reflect upon in the slightest. You can look forward to more of the same, indefinitely.Me: If you want me to…

Introspection: Day Three

I don't deal with avoidant people much. They tend to avoid me. I generally feel it's kinder to let them. Someone who refuses to assume they know what other people are thinking unless told, and someone who would rather swallow their own tongue than state their wants outright is a bad combination, and makes everyone unhappy.

And yet, I seem to have a friend who is like this. The first time I did something that rubbed them the wrong way, they let me go on doing it forever, not only not telling me, but doing their damndest to make sure I didn't notice anything was wrong. When they finally did say something, they had an honest-to-God panic attack right in front of me, and disintegrated so badly I couldn't tell if they were afraid I would quit talking to them over this, or afraid that I wouldn't. To their credit, they were completely aware that this should have been no big deal, and it was their anxiety that had made it snowball so badly; but on the other hand, if it was…

Introspection: Day Two

I'm not very good at asking for comfort. One reason is that I learned very early on that no one was responsible for coddling me. Asking people to do it anyway was a great way to get disappointed, if not yelled at.

Another reason is that... well, it doesn't help much. I don't generally verbalize things to other people until they have grown to a serious, obstructive Problem, which hugging does nothing concrete to alleviate. The only problem you can fix with hugging is the problem of "I have been insufficiently hugged today." Inasmuch as I do have friends, and many of them are in the performing arts, this is not a state of affairs that persists long enough to be an issue. People in theater will hug you because you're arriving, or departing, or remaining, or happy, or sad, or nervous, or because you've broken up with someone, or just because it happens to be a Wednesday in the month before the spring equinox just before the full moon.

I've any number of p…

Introspection: Day One

Every year, I give myself until the end of January to figure out my new year's resolutions. This prevents me from trying to take stock of my entire life while I'm still exhausted and sad from the six-week Festival of Consumerism And Family Joy, and concluding that I'm a terrible person and need to burn it all down to the ground. I always try to fix everything at once, and that... does not work.

This year, one of my small stupid resolutions is to finish a senbazuru. Senbazuru are the "thousand paper cranes" of Japanese folklore, usually tied together in twenty-five strings of forty cranes each. They are perhaps most familiar to Westerners from the story of Sasaki Sadako, a young hibakusha -- survivor of the atomic bombings -- who developed leukemia some years later, and began folding cranes out of scrap paper while she was in the hospital. She finished 644 birds before passing away. Her classmates finished the rest. A statue of Sadako stands in Hiroshima today, in…