Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Party From Hell

We have a number of August birthdays in our little circle, so each August we’ve tossed a party in fancy dress, often with a LARP (Live Action Role Playing) theme. Barbarians, vampires, spies and diplomats, what have you. It keeps people flowing and interacting with folks outside their segment of the circle, and lets new faces mingle without wondering “What am I going to TALK to these people about?”

This year was a big year for several of the August babies—they are turning 40. Those birthdays ending in a zero are always big, starting with the big one-oh. You’re finally not a baby any more, then you’re finally not a punk kid any more (and on your next birthday you can go out and get verschnikitt legally), then you’re no longer an arrogant twenty-something—you’re a grown-up who deserves to be taken seriously, and then you’re at the middle of your life. What now?

Well, we believe in being prepared, so instead of the usual elbow-in-the-ribs funeral 40th party, where everyone wears black, and the wives/lovers/husbands of the celebrants wear veils and sunglasses we decided to go to what happens after that, and throw a huge Heaven and Hell party.

Two of the circle live side-by-side next to each other, and had just installed a gate between the houses to cut the walk short. Their back doors are a lot closer together than the front doors. So the space between the homes became purgatory, with Heaven on the right and Hell on the left.

Ready for the tour? I’ll be your guide to the party to end them all, so remember what I look like—there are people you wouldn’t want to end up following, no, no.

We’ll start by turning right, through the gates of Heaven, where the monks of St. Benzedrine are chanting “Stairway to Heaven” softly and sweetly . . .

Down the hall of mirrors—hey, I always thought vanity was a SIN???—and past the Oracle of Delphi where the Oracle is performing a reading (fortune-telling???), through the Temple of Solomon and the belly-dancers (And what about lust??? That’s one of the Big Seven!) and into the kitchen of manna (don’t get me started on gluttony, now . . .) where the chocolate fondue fountain showers gently next to the mounds of strawberries and angel’s food cake, with Odin’s ravens watching closely over all . . .

Enough of that! Back out through Purgatory, where the way is clearly marked with good intentions . . .

And we all know where those lead . . .

Although the results may not be what we intended . . .

Sometimes they’re not a bad idea . . .

We’re at the gate!

Be sure to look up as we pass through . . .

And go by the dance floor, with souls writhing as the DJ whips the flames higher, and cranks up the volume on the screams. We’ll walk through the feast hall (be sure to try the devilled eggs, made by our resident castrato) and then out through Hell’s Kitchen to the festivities presided over by the Darkness Incarnate. If it gets too warm, try a dip in the pool . . .

But beware of the lifeguard!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Round and Round the Ring

Today tastes like apricots. Apricot conserve, to be more precise, with cashews, and just enough sugar to take the sting of the fruit out. With Devonshire cream (expensive at fine food stores) or the Mexican version (cheap in the local supermarket) both as thick as sour cream, but sweet and unspoiled.

I promised pictures of the final Hellmouth, promising blogger that I am, and they will be up this weekend. Roman riding leaves me little time for much else during the week, and last weekend was hectic. (As if this weekend will be any better—I’m dreaming again, I see. Haircut, lube the car, massage, dinner with Mischief—and get 65 paste pages whomped up because I’ll only have two weeks in September to complete them and get them sent where they need to go. Right.)

Although it looks like that situation may be improving. Rather than three horses, I’ll be able to cut back to two in October. It’s not Job 3.0, with the no roaming provision and the loosened skin parameters, but it’s at least Job 1.6, a step in the right direction.

I'll be working for Arthurella, doing collections paralegal work for Wilcox & Wilcox (and writing their newsletter, too, it looks like. Go here for a sample, under the August 4 post. Blog style covering dry topics such as tort reform. To me it reads like brownie batter and pickles, but apparently the sweet and salty and chocolate and crunchy appeals.) In addition, I'll be doing the work of Job 3.0 as it comes up, only I won't have to have a hand mirror on the wall while I do it. So long as what's gotta happen happens, the Once and Future Boss minds not.

So basically, I go on vacation and come back to a new job. And then, hopefully, another new job come January -- but working for the same company, just at Job 3.0. Not too shabby, if I say so myself.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

It's Original, but is it Art?

27 pounds of yummy vintage paper landed on my stoop today, and I only had time to page quickly thru one magazine before I had to run to a class in journaling. I have fallen in love with a new paint (Luminare), and am plotting how to acquire lots of it in many colors very very quickly. I could roll around nekkid in the stuff, which would probably encourage First Consort Gareth to let me buy as much as I desired.

Oh, but it's gorgemous. Especially the gold and colors--gold and violet, gold and pink, gold and green. What I could do with a heat gun and Tyvek and dryer sheets.

And a million dollars. Siiiiiiiiiigh.

This is the month of enforced poverty, before we go to Florence. It’s like fasting before Thanksgiving, except this is like fasting the month before. And working across the street from a bakery. A bakery that specializes in French pastry.

Hellmouth is complete and looking good. Pix to come, I promise. I had forgotten how much I love paper mache. The squooshy gooshy squeeziness like mud between your toes, the way pulp acts like air drying clay—only lighter, and given to armature work. I made the nose of the face by taping bitty water balloons together and then coating them in mache—and then I took and resculpted it in crumpled newspaper, finally topping it off with duct tape and another sheet or two of paper to make it work the way I wanted without adding more weight.

And now I’m thinking masks—not for this party, I’ve NO TIME at all. If I’m lucky and fast I’ll be able to whip out a pair of fake fur boot covers to go over my hooves before the party. But this will have to get done tomorrow at the absolute outside in order to work.

Ah, but for Dead Man’s in October, I could have a mask to rival Venice’s Carnivale. A domino extended up over the forehead, with rays sweeping back over the head and up that hold the mask on. Sanded fine and smooth, and painted with the colors of light, weeping pearls on fine chains. Oh my, yes.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A Circus of One

Today tastes like iron, garlic, and persistence.

Some weeks ago, during a long and evil down period, Mummie Dearest sent me a note, signed with her signature howling coyote, that read “Trust your mother, not those who doubt you.” I hung it over my workbench in the paper studio, where I would see it as bookends to the work day as I left and as I returned. It’s an external source of faith for times when I can’t bootstrap myself.

And in the last couple of weeks, a bunch of stuff has come together like that moment in breadmaking where you finally have enough flour, and the dough magically stops being a sticky mass and all rolls up into a clean elastic ball.

I submitted a poem to Annie Modesitt for her new book, Cheaper than Therapy. What the heck, electrons are free, right? She’s accepted it—actually sent the publishing agreement and all that. Watch for Cheaper than Therapy this fall, in the rapidly growing knit lit section.

I’m riding several horses with one behind, and hoping to quit the circus act soon, but there you go. I wrote an article for a former and (hopefully soon) future boss (the once and future boss? Should I call her Arthurella? Hmmmmm . . .) Anyway, I wrote an article about the then-pending Junk Fax Prevention Act (which passed, by the way. Basically what this does is makes it easier (and legal) for marketers to spam you via your fax machine (where YOU pay for the paper and toner. This was a total non-no under the TCPA—47 U.S.C. §227. The new bill can be found here. It takes effect January 1, 2006. Quick, fax your congressperson and tell him or her to put down the crack pipe!)

Ok, enough parenthetical exposition. Anyway, one of the attorneys on board for Arthurella saw it, and asked me if they could re-publish it in their newsletter. Now, mind, it reads very much like the paragraph above, soapbox and all. Chatty and conversational, with a couple of definitions, references, and what it all means to you. Not a lawyer’s tone at all. Way cool, sez I, so long as I get a byline. Better yet, add a contact for the fledgling company so we can get some ink out of it.

And they did. Not only that, they asked me to whip up an article for their firm for September with reference to Arizona’s tort reform laws as they apply to personal injury caps! Woooo-hoooooo, a project to sink my teeth into, with a guaranteed audience. Crunchy, and good with ketchup.

And as mentioned earlier—one behind and three horses. Arthurella has me doing some of the work that will become the full time position (soon, o soon). I’ll be the liaison between the company and the out-of state attorneys who work for us, so we’ve been getting my contact info together, and I’ve been starting out with phone calls and e-mails to fellas who’ve been out in the cold for a while, making demand and waiting for fees to come their way so they can file suit. It’s very similar to a job I used to do for her—and very different at the same time.

It’s been far too long since I was captain of my own destiny. Arthurella hates to micromanage, and I’m used to reporting in at each and every step—boss, I tied my LEFT shoe. I’m going to tie my RIGHT shoe now, may I? (She’s also bright and logical enough to realize that if you grouse about being asked to APPROVE each step, you don’t get to BLAME when the employee makes a mis-step.) So I’ve been telling her my strategy, and informing her of the promises my mouth makes so our behind can cash them.

I’ve been tap-dancing with this one fella, dickering over a fee agreement. I finally got him to show me his, and it was more than we could handle. I told him that, and counter-offered—then spent the afternoon chewing my fingernails to the elbows, worried that I’d blown it. That I’d exceeded my authority AND ticked off a potentially powerful partner in this gig.

Opened up my email this morning, and there’s a response from the guy. Opened it up gingerly—and he’s fine with our counter-offer, wants to get this show on the road. I smoothed another’s ruffled feathers—hopefully they’ll stay that way. I’d forgotten about the plunges on the roller-coaster ride of a new company.

But the highs are so high. And the thrill of effectiveness; of actually making stuff happen on your own recognizance and judgment makes it worth learning to juggle flaming chainsaws while walking a tightrope.

Monday, August 01, 2005

I Hate Being the Grown-Up

I haven’t given up on this space, it’s just that my hands have been full of paper and paste.

I spent the weekend working on the Hellmouth. It’s given me a new appreciation for what it must be like to be a dentist and see nothing of people except this gaping maw, forty hours a week. I now understand why they want to get chatty just as your gob is full of metal; it’s an attempt to connect with the human on the other side instead of a faceful of teeth.

I had been thinking of how to do the teeth. Since the Hellmouth is the arch you pass through on your way to the Hell section of the Afterlife party, I’m going to have to tweak the perspective a little. Molars are most recognizable biting surface on, but if I keep the canines and incisors in true anatomical position, all you’d see would be edges. I think I need to go viddy some art where the mouth is a gate (like Bosch, or some other medivalists, or at least that flavor) to see if putting the canines and incisors face-on (like when someone smiles at you) works in terms of what you perceive as opposed to what you see. After all, I don’t expect too many people to stand in front of this thing analyzing and picking it to death. That’s more my gig.

So anyway, I figured out how to sculpt the molars, and spent Saturday evening doing that (and trying to impress upon Vinnie that a little bit each night goes further than a whole honkin’ lot one weekend. Sigh.) Sunday I whipped up some paper mache pulp and coated molars. Got a little more than half done in a couple of hours, so now I’m hopeful that I can finish off the rest this week—a little at a time! They’re going to need as much time as possible to dry before we try to set them in place next Sunday.

I also want to whip up the canines in 3-d and put together some snaggly pointed incisors in 2-d—kind of rotating the teeth into their recognizable positions so the shift isn’t so abrupt. The eyes are more or less complete (tho’ I’d like to pulp the lids to make them “pop” more) and the nose is basically done (tho’ it needs pulping to smooth out the bulbiness some. Using masses of itty bitty balloons has its drawbacks.) Then, of course, everything needs to get good and dry before painting. Which in this miserable monsoon weather means three times longer than you’d think.

And that’s really the rub. If work progressed in bits and bites on this thing, then we could have it done and painted before the actual party. However, it feels like I’m the only one who wants to see it all come together and be done because the other two have chronic startitis. (I suffer form the condition, too, obviously.) And I’m really annoyed because I have stuff I’d rather be doing, too. I have projects that are important to me and to others in my life, and I don’t get the time I’ve invested in this thing back.

So all I can realistically do is keep slogging and keep saying, “Hey, could you give me a hand here? Could you do this one simple, specific task?” But I still really hate to have to be the grown-up.