Well, Christmas has come and gone. Now I just have to wait out the next week until all this holiday malaise begins to dissipate. It seems that the only things people are capable of doing in December is to plan parties and go on shopping excursions. God forbid you want to get your gall bladder removed, your toilet snaked, or get the paperwork finalized on that important restraining order. “Sorry, but our offices are closed for the holidays. If you'd like to leave a voice message, please press 1.”
Monday I made the quick trek up to Dallas to see my mother, sister, and aunt. Thankfully, my aunt deposited some money into my bank account so I could afford the gas. On the way out of town, I filled a near-empty tank. 63 bucks. Wow! I guess it'd been a while since I last spent so much on gas.
There were loads of cops and state troopers out pulling people over. Speeders and drunken weavers, I guess. I saw three accidents. The most dramatic was off the highway. A fire truck and three cops cars were on the access road, and men in uniforms surrounded a sports car laying in the grass, belly up. One of the firemen was holding open a large book. I almost wanted to pull over and take a closer look. Was it a bible, with him giving the last rites? Or was he, perhaps, frantically flipping the pages of the instruction manual to Bell County's newest purchase, the Turbo Slicer 5000 Jaws of Life?
It's been another financially lean year for me — as it has been for the other members of my family. We decided to keep it basic. Small gifts. And I sure wasn't bringing much with me. I arrived at my sister's place while she was still slaving away at the bookstore where she works. I used to do that. And working retail on Christmas Eve is pretty irritating. You get to see panicky assholes who are willing to buy absolutely anything — ANYTHING! “What do you mean you don't have any Far Side calendars? It's a tradition! I get one for my nephew every year. Okay, I guess I'll just get … this one.” “Um, this might not be appropriate, sir.” “What's not to like? Robert Mapplethorpe's Positively Male. Fishing, right? And boxing and sky-diving I bet. Kid's gotta grow up eventually. Oh, and I need that gift-wrapped.” “Yes, sir!”
The next day — Christmas — we picked up our mother and drove to our aunt's place. We had a late lunch and opened gifts. My sister always gives me great stuff. She's the only person who can buy me clothes that I'll actually wear. And if she gets me music or videos, they're unfailingly things I like. This year she got me a six month membership to NetFlix. My first DVD (which may well be speeding my way now) will be Angel-A, a recent Luc Besson film I'd not even heard of. I've also added to my “queue” a bunch of obscure Herzog documentaries as well as disk 1 of the boxed set of UFO, the British sci-fi TV series from 1970. I'm curious if it's anywhere as cool as I recall from my childhood.
Paula also gave me the audio book (in CD) of Amy Sedaris' I Like You. It's her quirky book on entertaining. Paula wants me to loan it to her after I listen to it. She's curious how a book that is so fragmented and compartmentalized could have been turned into an audio book. Well, I listened to the first two disks on my drive back to San Antonio last night. What she's done is to have placed the recipes as files on the final disk (though I haven't put it in my computer yet). And when she comes to a sidebar, there is the sound of a bell, and Sedaris (who reads her own book) says in her gushy voice: “Sidebar!” I've never read the book before (though I've seen Amy Sedaris interviewed on chat shows during the book tour — so I know the basic concept of the book), but it does indeed work well as an audio book. One of the joys of listening to Amy Sedaris is when she has soothed you into her girly world of taffeta, napkin rings, and Jell-O molds, and then she shifts into passing out advice on how to remove vomit stains, or, perhaps, she'll share the joys of planning theme parties such as Pol Pot Luck. I'm looking forward to listening to the rest of the disks.
My perennial obligation in this neighborhood (the price I pay — above and beyond my rent), is that I have become the poor prat who walks Phil's dog when he's out of town. And for this holiday season he's off for about a week.
I stepped out today, noonish, walked two doors down, and snapped the leash onto Cutesy. As we headed out for the basic three block walk, Emma rushed up and danced around us. It seems this hyper-active Chihuahua (and I guess I'm in danger of redundancy) had escaped from her backyard. She lives over at the end of the block.
She manages to escape fairly often. And true, I have feared that Emma might one day get run over by the cars that travel a little too fast down this street. But, she's not my dog. And I really don't care enough. I mean, really, we're just talking about a yappy Chihuahua.
But today, as I was walking Cutesy down Constance Street, I noticed that a car showed, stopped, opened it's door, and Emma leaped inside. Ah, her owner has come home. But it soon became obvious that this was not the case. The car sat there at the stop sign. And I knew that the two women inside were looking at the info on Emma's tags. The owner's name, address, and phone number is indeed on the tags, but I already knew from another neighbor that Emma's owner wasn't home and that the phone number on the tag was a home phone — so, for the moment, at least, the information was useless.
I watched with more bemusement than anything else as these busybody do-gooders slowly turned right on my street and began looking for the address. I walked back towards Cutesy's place and past Emma's house. The car looped around, and rolled to a stop at the address on Emma's tag. Exactly 25 feet from where they had coaxed the dog into their car.
As a frizzy-haired co-ed in a $200 sweater carried the poor pooch to the porch, I called out.
“She's not home. The neighbor at that house over there already tried.”
The girl furrowed her brows and walked up to me. She seemed unfamiliar with the notion that dogs, at times, run free.
“What should we do?” she asked.
“Well, Emma manages to squirm free every now and then.”
“She doesn't get run over?”
I assumed it to be a rhetorical question.
I explained that the fence was too high to return Emma to her yard.
“Of course you could just toss her over, like a football,” I suggested.
“I could take her home,” the girl said. And then she looked over her shoulder to her mom waiting in the car. “Oh, but we're going shopping.”
This was going nowhere. I was trying to inch my way clear of this bubble-head — a sort of virginal Paris Hilton.
And then apparently a thought crossed her pristine, uncluttered mind.
“Would you take her?”
I was tempted to see how she's react if I were to reply that “Look, lady, I wouldn't touch that shit-eating flea-bag even if you promised me a quickie in the backseat of your mom's car.” But, always the gentleman, I took Emma, tucked her under my arm, and headed on my way.
I tossed Emma into Phil's house along with Cutesy. One of my neighbors who watched this transpire said she'd alert Emma's owner to drop by my place when she got home.
Deborah came by yesterday to drop off a little gift. Her and one of her daughters had spent a day making some candles in mason jars. I put mine on the window over the sink. It's burning right now.
She told me that she had left the Bihl Haus. She'd been helping them curate and promote shows since Kellen and Eric had launched the gallery a bit over two years ago. But she wanted to spend more time on promoting her own art work. It sounded like a wise move. She's had a couple of very successful recent shows.
When Deborah asked if I was doing anything for the up-coming Luminaria event, I said that the whole thing seems fairly antithetical to what artists actually do. The website is unfocused. And most of the local artists with whom I've spoken have observed that it just doesn't seem to be a good fit for what they do. You know, make art. However, if you're a firedancer, and you don't mind performing for free, this might be the thing for you. (Not completely free. As the city promises to pay “out of pocket expenses,” I do think that you can probably get reimbursed for the gallon of gasoline, box of Diamond Matches, and the body glitter.)
Deborah has been talking with a couple artists who also have spaces at the Blue Star Arts Complex. They're planning to open their studios. Maybe there will be an overflow. And maybe I'll make a little experimental video piece and screen it at a space at Blue Star. I'm thinking that the theme of the piece, in keeping with Luminaria, will be Fire. And if it's a success, I can move on down the line to the other three of the four elements (five, if you count Rubidium). So, all I'll need is two dozen tiki torches, a fur bikini, a Zoot Suit, 300 votive candles, a svelte Chicano hipster, a pouty sex kitten, three of Satan's vile minions (gender unimportant), and a case of cheap yet adequate Texas wine.
Hey, maybe I DO need to petition the Lunimaria folks. This is starting to sound like some serious “out of pocket” budgetary cabbage.