Thursday, December 30, 2004

Relax your Hands, Your Fingers, Your Bleeding Cuticles...

I am wearing my America Is Scary t-shirt that I love sooooo much. I'm saving my new skirt for tomorrow night, since I actually have 2 parties to go to for New Year's Eve, a significant improvement over last year when half of us lost the party and I was in that half.

The problem is that I, uh, didn't realize that I have group tonight. And I think it's my turn to do guided meditation, and I'm dead sure I'll be the only one with anything prepared, because we're all a mess from the holiday and this is kind of a last minute thing.

So I used the lovely new CD burner (which makes reallly obnoxious noises that bother me) and the lovely new power strip that means I can burn forty minutes of familiar classical and listen to Bitch & Animal at the same time.

Which is good, because I have music and no idea what I'm going to do with it. I lined up Air on a G-String first for the deep-relax portion (it's fun to type G-string, knowing that it's going to fuck up someone's Google search at some point). That's the first three minutes.

Then Stravinsky's Rite of Spring -- it's the New Year and so a serious meditation, and "the dinosaur music from Fantasia" seemed appropriate -- both soothing and somber, somehow. I was so freaking scared of that part of Fantasia as a kid that I can't watch that section at all to this day. It's remarkably gory, really, and hey, I was really little. So little, in fact, that it took me a while to grasp that the composers had made the music before the animators made the movie (too little to pay attention during the live-action, basically). That's only ten minutes.

Oddly enough the next selection is Fantasia as well, the Pastoral. But that's because it's light, and long, which gives people permission to come out of their deep relax whenever.

It could go either way. Music that's so visually connected to our childhoods (we're all about the same age) may influence the meditation, but in that case it's kind of appropriate for the mix of pantheist and pagan we have coming tonight. Or it may just make people unable to concentrate. We shall see, I suppose.

It's just the core group tonight, which is cool. The Artist, the Kabbalist, his wife the Wiccan (aka CDHSarah), Kevin, and me. I'll talk seriously with the Kabbalist about my horoscope, get some advice about the prevalence of swords and cups in my next year, perhaps get him to run a subsidiary spread with one of his new decks to check out events and causes. I'll probably run horoscopes and Book of Changes tonight because I feel a little hyper. I'm annoyed about a bunch of minor things, and I want tonight to be one of those nights when we have a good, meaningful group -- it's been a little perfunctory the past couple of weeks for various reasons, mostly holiday work schedules and Yule.

We just call it "group", which is weird, because I associate that with therapy. We can't put a more formalized name on it. Five of us, once a week, occasional guests, one person probably about to become permanent, meet and talk about -- stuff. Spiritual stuff mostly, but our lives too.

No matter what moody snit the Artist is in, he'll be at group. If it weren't for group, I'd barely see the Kabbalist or CDHSarah, because all three of us work schedules that are considered "non-traditional." Also, a note about CDHSarah -- she was the last hot Waffle Waitress, and she fucking quit, so Waffle House is fucked now. We live around the corner from one another (literally) and we'd probably never connect if it weren't for group. We've rearranged our work schedules for four months to make sure we have Thursdays free.

I should be happy -- I have the Pirate Van back, I have group, I get to lead meditation, I am popular and in demand -- but honestly all I want to do is sit right here, in a chair that would be womblike if not for its particular shade of green, and play with the Internet. Luckily, the Internet knows I have places to be and has taken time off. Everyone's off in their real lives, and in about thirty minutes, I will be too.

Woody Guthrie is having hard traveling right now. If people want to revive Americana in some great show of national spirit, why not give the Guthries more props? Woody wrote This Land Is Your Land, for God's sake. I guess the current political climate is more Battle Hymn of the Republic, and not as interpreted by Joan Baez, who says yes to boys who say no.

If this stupid Iraq bullshit kills either my brother or my friend's husband, I will hold my government fully responsible. Lucky for them, like the Guthries, I'm a pacifist. The best thing I can do for myself is listen to Bill Hicks talking about Bush Sr. being gone in the "Dinosaurs In the Bible" bit and keep repeating that someday I'll get to listen to that track with the Artist, and champagne, celebrating that it's the next election and no matter who wins it won't be Bush, a victory all its own. At least there's hope.

"I think God put you here to test my faith, dude."

So true, and so scary, especially since the man is dead. (ETA, since I'm paranoid, that "the man" is of course Bill Hicks, who has been dead for some time, and not either Bill Clinton, who I miss, or the President, who is still very much alive, at least to the knowledge of this particular girl, who doesn't watch television or follow the news because her doctor advised her against raising her stress level by so doing.)

Time to pack up my stuff and get ready. We'll see how the meditation goes.

(I just realized that all my previous posts have been in Pacific Standard Time. This one and all future ones will be in CST unless I forget.)

Again, With the Falling Raindrop! (Water Torture Remix)

I am

Picture me all red in the face and talking like Cartman because of spikes in my blood pressure.

Not enough plugs, no cat food, no TP, no way to make sure the new CD burner works, no sales worth crap tonight, no support who knew the difference between their own ass and a hole in the ground (until the fourth call), and not enough hours this week. Dammit. Dammit. Dammit.

Time to say what I'm thankful for in 2004, now that's said.

I'm glad this year is over.
I'm glad I didn't go to the hospital any more or any longer than I did.
I'm glad I didn't spend more than $2000 on car repair this year.
I'm glad Mr. Turner came back, and the Doctor. I'm glad I started hanging out with my other friends from high school, now that they've moved back home, too.
I'm glad the Artist broke up with the Worthless SoulSucking Waste of Human Flesh as quickly as he did, because it was becoming impossible to remain civil after she took my heart, stomped on it, and started going out with the only man I love that way.
I'm glad I went celibate to stop that kind of drama.
I'm glad I started hanging out with Kevin. I'm not really sure why, because Kevin sometimes gets on my nerves, but I'm glad I have a Kevin.
I'm glad I finally managed to get my SortOfStalker off my tail.
I'm glad I ran away to Virginia this year and had an adventure with Dr. Becca, even if I did break my toe, and I'm going to do it again. Without the toe getting broken.
I'm glad I broke my lease and left my slum apartment for the nice one I have now, and I'm glad I got to live with DCHSarah and her husband in the Casa Poco, even if I never want to do it again.
I'm glad I found the middle kitty when he ran away during the move.
I'm glad I maxed out my credit card, because without it I would have gotten out of hospital and been homeless.
I'm glad I got three tattoos this year, because tattoos make me happy.
I'm glad I adopted the baby cat.
I'm glad that my nephew didn't die when he got his heart operated on twice.
I'm glad I went back to BUST.
I'm glad I found Tomato Nation and
I'm glad I donated library books and became a Cool Kid.
I'm glad I didn't go to jail and I'm glad I got my car back when it was stolen.
I'm glad I made the biggest collage I've ever seen, even if I need the Artist to help me hang it up.
I'm glad to still be here. A couple of times, that was up in the air.

I'm also glad I can do this kind of thing with a straight face, because if it was anyone else I'd be laughing my ass off at her for being such a silly maudlin wench.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Sensei is Always Right

A quick update to the previous...

The Artist doesn't have a date. (Of course I assumed that because of Paranoid Self.)
He was being cagy because he had with him Mr. Turner, who I haven't seen in over a year, whose copy of Rimbaud's A Season In Hell has moved with me twice, waiting for him to return. The Artist just wanted it to be a surprise.

And he did. And I'm so happy I don't even care that I have to work, because I have my Mr. Turner back again.

This is the best of all possible surprises. Oh, and I got my CD burner. That's pretty cool too, so I'm probably going to be in mix-making land for a while now. Once I get off work, that is.

So many beloved ones coming back into my life...the Doctor, the Artist, Mr. Turner. Maybe now we can find Magus.

Currently reading: nothing, because in the flutter over my surprise I left all reading material at home. Will probably spend most of the night at work on Velcrometer, and reading Special Sauce's blog, since she was my very first leaver of comments, and loves Tomato Nation too, which I want to be updated like a selfish child, even though I know that Sars is busy and I can't have a new Girl's Bike Club every week like I want. I am one spoiled American.

Oh well, time to pay the bills.

Damn You, Gently Falling Raindrop....DAMN YOU!

Karma fucks me up regularly. It's like my life is a quasisadistic Zen master, so enlightened that he's past right and wrong, and also telepathic, and I'm forever getting the intellectual kendo stick.

Naming people on a blog is always difficult, and this one prefers to be monikered. So, for reasons that will make sense to the BUSTies, I'll refer to him as the Artist. Anyhow, his car has gotten fixed before mine, so he's coming to pick me up.

A few weeks ago, I very unnecessarily worried the Boss by not calling. The Artist can't call, because he is moving 60 miles in a week, has cut off his land line and, quite honestly, hates cell phones. Self help crap tells me that if a man usually doesn't call you he is Just Not That Into You. Mine just hasn't really liked phones since he stopped dealing drugs, because no matter how many times he changes his phone number, whenever he goes within 20 miles of his hometown the rumors that he's doing it again start to spread.

All the Artist does these days is drink Evan Williams whiskey and lemonade. He calls me from work, or I call him there.

We had talked at closing time. He was supposed to be here already, but cautioned me with wry experience not to worry, that his crazy Nana was taking him to pick the car up and that there was a good chance he'd be delayed.

Worry can become a paranoia of its own, is what the Nigerian doctor said to me when I asked him about my problem. If you automatically assume every person who is ever late is dead, and every person you can't get ahold of has decided they hate you in the hours between ten p.m. and noon, if you're always worried about what was said and done while you are out of the room...time for a rationality check.

Problem is, the rational filmstrip plays over the audio for the paranoid little voice, and what results is not joyful detachment, I will tell you that.

"He isn't coming."
"Yes, he is."
"Why do you say that, as a matter of intellectual curiosity, since he IS coming?"
"Because he's going out on a daaaaate!"
"Yeah, he probably is. After I go to work, which is none of your business, you troll, so go somewhere else. I'm trying to think over here."
"I think."
"Prove it."
"I think he's not coming."
"He hasn't called to say he is."
"He said so last night."
"That was last night."
"I'm not going to argue with you...what is that sound?"
"MIDI noises. Your purse has been infested by an evil robot."
"What are you talking about? Why are you still talking? Why do you turn me into Heather Chandler? Gaaaaah."
"Your purse is making MIDI noises and they aren't going to go away. Please make them stop."
"It's a little red game controller with yellow buttons."
"See? Evil robot child."
"Shut up. I picked that up in Richard's car last night by accident -- oh fuck, what does the kitten have?"

Not very Zen.

So I was looking at my child-Ganesh, having ascertained that the kitten had dragged a bottle of tylenol with a child-proof cap onto the linoleum, thinking about the not-calling/worrying karma from the Boss, and the cell phone decides to ring, and it's the Artist telling me he's at his Nana's, that he'll be here in plenty of time because they're leaving now and the dealership is on the way to my house.

And the kendo-wielding sensei that is my dharma sits back with a satisfied smile and refuses to tell me anything at all but what I already know. Damn you, Paranoid Self, for always getting us in trouble with the sensei.

Yo-De-La-E-O, De-Lay-Ee -- G'nite, Magus...

Current Winamp shuffle: Daybreak Blues from the 3 Pickers CD, immediately followed by the Ramones and Judy is a Punk. In the time it took me to type and format that, it was replaced by Blondie. Gotta love that punk rock music.

Right now I'm talking to Korea Army Buddy about...well, nothin. In the past hour, we've covered:

*talk about his wife, who is one of my oldest friends and is having health problems
*his nutty mother-in-law
*the change in terminology related to mental health (the "impaired functioning" test)
*rare genetic defects
*whether I should write a treatise about morals and ethics (part of an ongoing conversation -- he's an atheist, I'm a pantheist, so it gets interesting and yet is entirely without rancor)
*the cord I need for my DVD player, which is apparently a standardized cord I could have bought any time over the last 4 months (d'oh)
*the reason why his blog would either be the most boring thing ever, or get him sent to Gitmo
*my lunar calendar from yOni which is not here yet
*how people above the Artic Circle never developed solstice/equinox rituals because they're not evident, but did know that the world was round a long time ago
*the Road Runner

Now Winamp feels like Nirvana.
Let me tell you about my radio.

A long time ago our friend Magus moved to California. He had to go on the bus, so he left some of his stuff with us, including his stereo.
It became common usage (our house was the site of a lot of parties back then) to refer to any weird behavior on the part of the stereo as something Magus did.
We apparently believed it real, because I swear my friend's musical taste has pre-weighted the Winamp too.
I have 400 songs, but the things he liked come up over and over. Sublime plays "Scarlet Begonias" and I can almost feel him behind me.
Magus, this is Elizabeth. I miss you.

Magus moved to California almost three years ago, to a town called Radcliff(e).

If you know Magus, tell him his dreadlocked hippie still has his stereo, and his bottom drawer, and that we're still looking for him.

The intellectual crap: I'm trying to finish Foundation's Edge, but things keep interrupting me. The evil promo-whores at Amazon had to get me all excited about Harry Potter 6 (I love children's lit and I'm proud) so I pulled out Goblet of Fire to soothe me. I normally have a policy to never read a closed series until all the books are out, but a huge fit of boredom back in the summer tempted me to listen to the audiobooks and now I am J.K. Rowling's bitch.

Finished recently:
Girl, Interrupted;
How to Behave:A Guide to Modern Manners for the Socially Challenged, which was delightful and made me laugh;
2001: A Space Odyssey;
& Olivia Joules & The Overactive Imagination for about the fifteenth time, because I adore it.

Waiting for delivery or special order:
Why Girls Are Weird, by Pamie of
The Kali Box;
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books;
No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days;
Principia Discordia, Or How I Found Goddess and What I Did to Her When I Found Her: The Magnum Opiate of Malaclypse the Younger, because my tarot told me to. Also the Bob Dobbs book from the Church of the Subgenius, which I'm too lazy to look up.

That's the report. I'm going to talk back to Korea now.

Leadbelly playing Hitler Song, moving into AC/DC Bag. Good night, Magus.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

No Car, No TV, No Sex -- What Do You Do, Exactly?

This blog is called Thoughts from the Hold Music because that's when I get to do most of my thinking.

I'm the voice, man. The one greeting you, telling you my name (which you'll ask for again later because you weren't listening), asking what I can do for you.

Robert Heinlein said in Friday that the prevalence of bad manners is a hallmark of cultural collapse, the sign that your culture has entered its decline. I didn't believe this until I went to work on the phone. The past three years have convinced me that we are too far gone to be saved.

The cell phone has just made things worse, but there are better rants about proper cell phone usage. I'm just talking about what is and is not considered acceptable behavior, and how the rules seem to change when the business and the person are connected by the phone.

Most people would never dream of shouting obscenities at a hapless checkout clerk while she tried to find a manager.
Most people would never, upon seeing a "free" offer, accost a store employee to repeatedly demand a substitution on the free item because they don't want it, they want something else of similar value.
Most people wouldn't lean over to a white sales clerk and say how happy they are that they ended up in her line instead of the Indian clerk because she's "an American."
Most people don't come up to the checkout with a bunch of really neat, expensive toys and expect the person to "find" coupons and rebates to get them back inside their budget.
Most people don't demand a manager when their ad circular turns out to be six weeks old and the item is no longer on sale at the fabulous low price.
Most people won't go and try to check out in, say, the pharmacy because the line is shorter, because they know they're just going to get sent to the end of the line up front.
Why? Because other people would hear, mostly. Shame is the most effective tool.

On the phone, most people lose all shame.
Keep in mind that they call me. I sell custom computers at one job, catalogued retail items at the other. I don't cold-call, ever. They call me. To yell and cajole and demand and threaten to call The New York Times (note: threatening to sue or publish potentially libelous material doesn't get you helped; it forces us by policy to transfer you to Legal, who go home before five. Sorry.)

These aren't fly-by-nights. These are Fortune 500s. Most of these people are full of shit, quite simply.
You know those user guides to the Internet? Here it is...


Welcome to the telephone. Most companies will let you call them for free. They set up 1-800 numbers for the purpose. Most companies also have more than one 800 number, to get you to the right place the first time. Sales is a different department than customer service at most large companies. So is technical support. Calling one of the three trying to reach the other guarantees that you will get transferred. It's not that the people hate you, or that they are incompetent. If they say that they "have" to transfer you, they are usually telling the truth; a significant of the training you get at a major call center deals with how to get people where they need to be. I can't give you tech support if I try; you'll have to hold while I transfer you. More on this in a minute.

The smart consumer makes some attempt to find the correct number before calling. This can usually be done at the company's Web site. If for some reason you cannot or will not check for the correct number, you will have to call the number you have. Congratulations! You've probably added 15 minutes onto your resolution time. No, wait. Don't dial yet. Grab the relevant papers (invoice, order number, letter) before you get on the phone. Dial the number.

Cartoons aside, there's a really, really good reason that every major company has an incredibly intricate IVR (that's the voice that asks you to press buttons dependent on your needs.) Why, you ask? Because you're stupid.
Maybe not you. Maybe you had the correct number the first time. Congratulations again; don't throw that MENSA application away just yet. However, the rest of your fellow man has barely worked out thumbs, much less checking for a correct phone number. So, no matter what number you call, you must face the Automated Menu.

Voice-operated menus will usually let you say "Customer Service" and skip parts of the IVR. Do this only if you need customer service. Customer service means order tracking, looking for orders, talking about problems with orders, changes to orders. Customer service reps cannot fix it if it's broken. Usually they can't sell you anything either.

You're not in a voice-activated menu? Too bad. Time to use your listening skills. Listen to the menu twice if you have to. Go to the description that most closely matches your needs. If you owned a business once but don't, and are purchasing for home, don't press 2 for business just in case.

Here's a hint. We hate the IVR as much as you do, if not more. It almost always needs a major overhaul, we hate it, and we spend more time in it than you do trying to get smart you (or your knuckle-dragging compatriots) where you need to go. We have our own internal IVR that you never hear, and we spend a lot of time on hold too. Don't talk to us about how the computer menu is confusing and that's why you hit 1 for sales immediately to talk about the thing you got that was broken. We don't care and we can't fix it, and you have just fucked up because of...

You know at your job, where your boss can actually see whether or not you're doing any work? In my line of work, that's not so easy, so there's something called "numbers" instead. A whole department, watching our numbers.

People in sales usually have quotas. The level of their importance differs from place to place; in some it's the whole paycheck, in some it's a performance indicator, in some it's a good hint of who's going to get promoted. They also usually have a close rate: number of sales versus number of calls. That's total calls. That includes you just pressing one so you can get transferred without having to listen to the automated menu. (If it's been a slow night, you may have just pulled 20% off my close rate just because you were lazy. That does not endear you to me.)

Their job is to sell. When you call them with your problem and demand that they assist you with it rather than sending you to customer service (whose numbers are based on how fast they can help you with your problem's resolution), you're hurting their job performance, and they grow to slowly hate you, not care about your problems, and sometimes passively-agressively sabotage you. By transferring you, they are doing what they've been told to do. Don't stop them. If you call into sales after holding for tech support for a period you consider too long because "sales will answer the phone" -- you have just gotten an express ticket to the end of the line, honey, because all we can do is put you there. Did you go to kindergarten? Remember how the teacher would put you at the very, very end of the line if she caught you cutting? Same deal here. Hope you've at least stopped bedwetting since then.

By the way: Bigot McHadToHoldTooLongForTechSupport, there was just a huge natural disaster? In India? And, um, some of our work force can't come in to work ever again. Because they're probably dead. Your hour hold time to get your problem resolved concerns us very, very little right now. You need to wait your turn, and remember....

The secret to getting helped is not, contrary to popular belief, to bellow and bluster at the first hapless human voice you find. You are not Michael Moore, we are not the Lockheed-Martin PR flack. You are also not Trump. They do not pay us specifically to listen to you scream and curse and act like a kindergartener. (When you've cut line to tattle, you overgrown child, you make me very angry and I stop caring if you become a return customer, because I -- just don't care. I don't think people like you deserve good service.)

I, like most of the people I work with, at least try to do a good job for most of the people who call us, even the ones who are ruining our close rates by calling sales for service. The ones who are nice, the ones who recognize that an unusual issue probably can't be resolved by the first person who picks up the phone -- we get them to senior sales reps, to service, to managers for callbacks. Quickly. They give us a sentence or two about the problem, we find the right person, they thank us, we go on to do our real jobs. The rest of you are what makes us love Tyler Durden.

I can almost guarantee you that if you call in, swearing or threatening to sue, a note will go in your account at that company for all time letting everyone know. Usually we use this feature for good -- if you have a speech disability and are a regular customer, or if you are partially deaf and tell us that, we'll note it to help out the next guy. Same with a TTY relay call for the totally deaf. But if you act like a vagrant coming off meth because your shipment was late, there's a possibility that your Permanent Record will reflect the time you told the salesgirl that she'd better fucking get you a manager before you called the paper (God, that woman). Do you want the word "belligerent" next to your name? Forever? Take a deeeeep breath.

We will laugh at you once you're gone, too, when you completely lose your shit on the phone. We can hear each other as our voices rise, still calm and reasonable but just a bit higher, telling you for the fifth time that we understand, we really do, but we can't do credits in this department, we have never been able to do them, and that in the time you've taken to scream, customer service has closed. To defuse the situation, we may just decide to tell everyone about it. This actually happens. Has your shame kicked back in?

Politeness makes us want to help you. The screaming? We've heard it before. Please hold.

Hi, My Name Is...And I'm Celibate

"You mean, like 40 Days & 40 Nights?"

Well, not exactly.

I don't remember what specific fit of pique made me decide to become a temporary celibate, the turn of the key in my psychological chastitity belt -- a couple of shitty encounters and a bad case of missing my ex, followed by a dearth of anyone I considered acceptable for even a fun fling set the mood, because the first time I remember talking about it, it was in reference to the Dirty Guadalupe. I was joking about pulling a double-fake on life -- if you're not having sex because there's none to be had, become celibate and sexual opportunity will appear.

Stop Googling "Dirty Guadalupe". It's not what you think it is. (It's the term we coined for a certain pharmaceutical drug that makes you unable to shit and kills your sex drive. I'm not taking that drug anymore, because that's the dreaded double whammy. I can deal with celibacy, but not celibacy and constipation too. I think that might turn me into a Republican or something.)

Then I fucked up and announced my celibacy on TV Time, a local talk radio show that is ostensibly about entertainment and, being after midnight, is usually more about sex than anything else. (Obligatory famewhoring: TV Time, midnight to 2 AM CST, available via realplayer at WRVU Online.) As their Official Fisting Correspondent (other honorary titles include Miss TV Time, and the TV Time Idol, currently Punk Rock Beth) I felt it incumbent on me to announce why I had no special reports from the girls-who-like-girls front. It wasn't really a thinking gesture; it was late, I was intoxicated, I had been thinking about it, and all of a sudden I had committed to it. To a very small & devoted listenership, many of whom are incarcerated and have to communicate via letter rather than calling in, but committed nonetheless.

I decided to take it seriously. God help me.

I set rules. Masturbation? O.K. I wasn't doing this for self-purification purposes per se; there was no need to make things difficult. Just nothing but my hands. And me.

For how long? I picked a date of personal significance in 2005, about nine months in the future. At the point when I set a date, I had already been effectively celibate for three months or so, which means that I will have gone a year, and a bit, having no sex (if I get lucky on my fuck-by date, that is. More about that in a minute.)
You know what? Celibacy is O.K. It's not chocolate-chip cookie dough, but it's OK.
I have slept in the same bed with people. I have had kisses and self-administered orgasms. I'm over halfway through.

When you're not having sex with anyone, you can sleep on your Blood Towel (tm Inga Muscio). If you don't expect the UPS guy, you can sit around naked with your period on a towel that makes you hope you never get mixed up in a murder because it would be such a Law & Order moment. Briscoe: "What's this?" Me: "It's my Blood Towel! That's my blood!" I love my Blood Towel. I love not even having to worry about the possibility of grossing anyone out with it.

When you're not having sex you can do whatever the hell you want. You don't have to shave. You do when you want to feel pretty, maybe. You don't stop wanting to feel pretty, but at the same time you're just resigned to it when it's not happening: "Oh, it doesn't matter about the hideous zit on my jaw, pulsing with its own life -- maybe if I have it now it'll be gone by the time it matters." Blah.

You can take reaaally long baths. You're not bathing with someone where eventually the water gets cold and you go to bed without dressing and suddenly more than your skin feels warm and damp. Conversely, you never have to take a quick shower because you might be having sex before the next time you bathe. I haven't taken a shower in a month. I spend thirty minutes in the bathtub every day reading the book du jour and watching the kitten, who likes hanging out on the toilet to watch me take a bath. If she doesn't sit there every minute, she'll miss the water swirling down the drain, which she always chases, as if in retribution for all the times that the water splashing out of the tap has scared her.

I wouldn't have noticed the kitten's little patterns, I'm sure, if I'd been having sex. I would have been preening and pruning and scrutinizing myself, not hanging out to finish the chapter and see the incredibly precious denouement of bathtime.

You can wear granny panties, but you still don't, usually. You never feel like you've "wasted" the pretty panties if they don't get seen.

I have had chances to have sex. Thus far, "because I'm celibate" hasn't been the only reason I didn't sleep with the available candidates. I am still talking to all of them, unlike the people I slept with at the beginning of this year. Although the past is what it is, I just know enough about the patterns of my life to know that not having that in reserve would mean at least one of them completely out of my life. Another number with an unfamiliar voice, an out of service recording, deleted from the cell phone. If I was having sex, I wouldn't be online at one-thirty in the a.m. to catch my buddy in Korea on AIM. I'd be, well, having sex.

I'm doing OK celibate. Relatively boring, but the dramatic tension just hasn't been in it up until now. No one would even try to make a movie about this.

Here's the thing, though.

I read tarot. Yeah, shut up. I do a lot of things for which there are no scientific basis. Humanity needs rituals. Go take introductory sociology. Or anthropology. Or anything that means you'll shut up about the tarot reading.

In the deck I use, the Empress is represented by "Creativity". (My deck was made by a Zen sect.) And in one of the readings of the year I did the day after Christmas, the date I had chosen came up the Empress. Reversed.
The Empress is the fertility card, so you can guess the most obvious meaning of the reversal. I checked the dates as well as I could. Nope, should be fertile. (Not that I'm trying to get pregnant, but it's especially important to know these things if you're not.) So the less likely indicator? BAD idea to have sex. Really bad. From a spiritual standpoint, a no-no.

I can't have sex on my fuck-by date. I can't now.

And now I want to have sex. Now all of a sudden it matters, a whole lot.
I'm going to keep it up. I'm going to keep buying pretty panties and wearing them just for me. I'm just going to be a little more frantic for the rest of the winter, a little more excited for the coming of spring. Bing-bang, dramatic tension!
I'm worried about more than having sex again in 2005. Self-hypnosis or no, the year ahead looks interesting, and I'm going to share it here so I can see how well I predicted what I'll be experiencing.

So, for the doubters out there, here's the forecast for the year 2005 in my life, condensed somewhat to protect privacy. People who know/care nothing about practical tarot should skip down. People who hate it with the fire of a thousand suns might just want to skip the rest, but keep in mind....this is my experiment.
Deck: Osho Zen. Spread: Yearly, plus the 8 major pagan holidays, laid months, then wheel-of-year. 20 cards total. 14 inverted, 6 major arcana. Predominately clouds and water (clouds representing air, or swords in the Western decks, and water as cups of course) in the minor arcana. No earth/coins at all. (Two Queens, a Knight, the Hanged Man and the inverse Fool. I am a T.S. Eliot wet dream.) I listed the Western correspondences even though this deck has cards not accounted for, just for those of you who are technical and still use a traditional deck, but keep in mind that the cards have changed some in the deck I use. If the meaning is not immediately clear, I cross-reference the symbology, but tarot is not a scientific discipline, so please don't email me why I'm wrong about the meaning of the inverse Magician, etcetera. Go spend a couple hours doing your own yearly spread in every major area of your life and then integrating those, and we'll compare.


The I Ching reading which preceded the general tarot reading indicated that success in the year came from a balance of discipline and self-love. And no, the general tarot reading will not allow you to guess my fuck-by date, because that was a different horoscope. Booyah.

January. Stress. The chance to take risks and the chance to get burned. (Seven of Wands)
February. Understanding (reversed). This card relates to the feeling of being trapped, which is generally an illusion of the mind. (Page of Cups)
Imbolc. Inner Voice (reversed). Imbolc is holy to Brid, the Priestess/IV card represents feminine wisdom. Apparently for this holiday I need to take a more earthy approach to the celebration, instead of intellectualizing it like I do, well, most of the time. (II, The Priestess)
March. No-Thingness (reversed). Life in March is apparently going to be a pointless void, or feel like one; nothingness as opposed to detachment. March is going to SUCK, I betcha. (V, the Hierophant. See why I hate Western decks? They're all scarylike.)
Ostara. Fighting. At the Spring Equinox "Fighting" is an OK card to get, less scary than it seems. Apparently this Equinox needs to be dedicated to Erys and the warrior gods. That's OK; I've been meaning to read the Principia Discordia for three years now and haven't gotten around thereto. Whip me a little harder, why don't you, Future? (Knight of Swords)
April. Rebirth (reversed). In the Wheel of the Year, April is the month when the Oak King is being reborn. Old T.S. put it better than I ever could, the meaning of this card. (10 Swords)
Beltane. Sharing (reversed). Beltane is usually the buck-wildest of all the pagan holidays for me. The reversed Fire Queen (fire being action and passion) says I need to bank my enthusiasm a bit this year to get the most out of it. Boo. (Queen of Fire)
May. The Fool (reversed). There's going to be an obvious pitfall, and if I'm looking the right way, I'll see it coming. (0, The Fool)
June. Sorrow (reversed). Aaaand....things get better. Sort of. (9 of Swords)
Litha. Postponement. Apparently, not cutting it loose at Summer Solstice, either. That, or the weather is going to be screwed up. (4 of Swords)
July. Letting Go (reversed). It's a balance between holding on to life and choking it, basically. Discipline, again. (8 of Cups)
August. Receptivity (reversed). From the reversed Fire Queen to the reversed Water Queen. I'm going to be a huge bundle of nerves around my birthday. Leos who end up Water Queen for their natal day are mad, wet kitties. The decision is split as to whether the reversal is good or bad here, but I'm going to be some kind of severe emotional thing period. (Queen of Cups)
Lughnassad. New Vision Apparently at Lughnassad I'm going to see God in a way I've never seen God. Hurrah. Or I'm scared. Don't know. (XII, The Hanged Man)
September. Schizophrenia. No, not literally, asshole. The card represents cognitive dissonance. (2 of Swords).
Mabon. Existence (reversed). This indicates distractions, earthly things pulling away from the spiritual. Apparently I need to take Mabon off to do spiritual things At least it's early enough to put in for vacation. (I, The Magician).
October. Comparison. This card indicates the tendency to compare dissimilar things and judge them for what they're NOT rather than what they ARE. October is time for a reality check. (5 of Swords).
Samhain. Harmony (reversed). Samhain is the holiday of the dead and lost. Apparently I have some I need to make peace with. (10 of Cups.)
November. Totality (reversed). This indicated to me a delicate period (fire indicates action) where if I take my eye off the ball, it's all over. Pressure much? (5 of Wands)
December. Thunderbolt (reversed). This is the part where I got scared and excited. The reverse Tower can mean drastic life change for the good, or total destruction without any hope. We'll vote for the former and hope the latter doesn't steal the election. (XVI, The Tower).
Yule. Conditioning (reversed). Apparently the determiner of the Thunderbolt is whether or not I'm in the same life pattern this time next year. (The Devil).
Goody. The Tower and the Devil.
So, in short, Western tarot decks suck, with all the swords and cups around here I can't wait to have sex again, and I guess part of my discipline will be to check in here periodically and keep a running tab of how things go. You can critique my tarot style, verbally beat me up, beg me to do your yearly, etcetera, at Soon I might get fancy-schmancy with comments and jazz, but for now it's late and I hie me to bed.