31 October 2008

Haunting me

There's this funny voice that whispers insistently, I've dodged a lot of bullets! Is this some form of post-traumatic stress disorder popping up in my face -- my oblique way of remembering some of the stuff I've been through? Or is it a reminder to be thankful for each and every moment of good health and well-being?

Today the little princess and her neighbor friend were digging for worms. (There's nothing like letting the kids dig holes in the garden, I tell ya. Not much is sweeter.) I cleared weeds from a small patch and when my daughter urged her younger pal to check his gardening gloves for spiders, "Because of what happened to you, Mama. Remember when that spider bit you?" And I do.

The bullet I dodged that time was not taking steroids. There have been a couple of pivotal moments when I have decided against drugs (Prozac, steroids for the spider bite) and have been so grateful later. These decisions could have taken me down different paths entirely, healthwise. I've never heard anyone say they were glad they took steroids -- my mother finally refused steroid treatments even though in the medical world a course of steroids was a fairly common response to her diagnoses. It just always seemed to make everyone around me who took them so much sicker. And I wonder if Prozac might have knocked me off my pins. I know people who started taking antidepressants and felt better, like they wanted to live instead of commit suicide. Their lives have literally saved by taking medications. But when they don't get the right medications for what's ailing them, look out. Watch them closely.

The other reason I have that voice in my head is because it's true. Maybe that's why all those friends used to say to me they thought I'd do great things (a memory that has been transfixing me ever since I saw The Secret Life of Bees last weekend with my BFF). Because I did beat a lot of odds to be here now doing this thing that I do. I am grateful for that.

Ok, I have about fifty things to tidy and clean up. Gotta dash!

30 October 2008

I'll help in other ways this time

How differently I parent from the ways my parents brought me up! The inciting incident for this thought was a blast email from a friend asking if any of us had a bed we could spare for some political volunteers who are coming a-canvassing in our fair swing state this weekend. I really wanted to write back and offer our guest room. But we had just been reading On the Shores of Silver Lake, one of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie books, and in it Laura describes how suddenly their little home became a lodging house for all these men who were coming through on their way to claim homesteads. One night they'd have a few men pull up who had nowhere else to stay, so they fed them and gave them beds; the Ingalls girls had to go up to their room and stay there until the men left in the morning. Sometimes they were up until the wee hours cooking for as many at 15 men, in shifts of meals and dishes. They had to put them in the barns and outside sometimes; their little home didn't house 15. I know I probably don't have to worry about an Obama volunteer in my house now, but the facts are that I have a child whose innocence I am guarding with my life, and I know what can happen when parents aren't so careful with their kids. So not this time.

29 October 2008

I voted today! And now I want my own Mini-Obama to manipulate

I'm tickled at what I found when I Googled how to volunteer for Obama. Obama's website is called MyBarackObama.com. It reminds me of "Mini-Me" from Austin Powers, and of my friend in the cold northern reaches of the country who calls her iPod her "Mini-Tom" (as in Tom Gray of Gomez). It makes me feel like I've got my very own Mini-Obama right here online, or better yet, in my phone. There is something alluring about having a pet mini Obama right there in my portable digital devices, like your pet having a life online in Webkinz. I like this idea. I should develop a little game or iPhone app!

Last Wednesday we went to see Synecdoche, New York (make it rhyme with Schenectady, from whence the lead character hails). Synecdoche is the first film by Charlie Kaufman, the screenwriter who turned Susan Orlean's nonfiction book The Orchid Thief into the surreal cinematic experiment that was Adaptation, and wrote The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He's in the midst of a raft of PR for his movie -- his future probably depends on it. One quote that stood out from an article was that people are so used to calling directors "auteurs," when what that means is "author." He was talking about the director being the one said to have the vision, when he felt that without the writer, there would be no vision in the first place. He appeared last week, coming in at the tail end of the screening, in time to see a big laugh at Dianne Wiest's character's transformation into a mimic of Caden, another synecdoche. Perhaps Kaufman will do for this orally challenging word what The Police did for synchronicity.

Kaufman submitted to a barrage of questions from lots of wannabe filmmakers and college-educated folks who like to hear themselves think out loud, not unlike myself. People would ask about influences -- "Were Michel Gondry's videos for Bjork songs an influence when you wrote Adaptation?" Kaufman would just say, "No." This happened a few times, like when someone said they found it quite Brechtian how Philip Seymour Hoffman's character, Caden, wasn't very sympathetic. "I disagree. I thought he was very sympathetic. I really tried to make him more sympathetic," said the filmmaker.

Listening to: George Michael, "Freedom" ("You gotta give what you take.") (And yes, it came up on a random play, followed by "Love Fool" by The Cardigans.

28 October 2008

That's what makes me the mom

Cleaning cat boxes for the zillionth time I thought, as one of my cats studied me while I worked, that's what really makes me the mom, as much as providing a warm lap and loving and feeding them when they're hungry. Really what separates you from all the others is that total willingness to clean up the excrement and excesses of the other. It makes me happy that I have a partner who also wants to help our child and pets in the same ways -- in fact it makes me want to do better, and so we wind up competing to do well by our daughter in a most healthy way.

There's always this terrible pull between writing and other work, and here I sit, choosing to write about it. My friend has made it her normal thing to do projects, and her place looks fantastic as a result. I have put so much time into my writing and reading and viewing and just being the mom that I haven't invested it in my surroundings, and we are still just getting by. It's time for something different, an amazing find. It's time to rent a truck and go touring Kansas to look for furniture. Paint the inside, start with some completely different ideas and found objects. We could even recover what we have, too. That's my kind of challenge. If we did a little road trip, maybe just for a weekend, picking somewhere within 300 miles that had a couple of promising sales coming up, perhaps I could write in the car. Judy wants to go to the Western Slope -- I could take her and poke around over there, I suppose, although I suspect there are so many people like me already poking around that the pickin's are slim.

I liked my idea of making over our place with lots of sliding doors. For cabinet doors, bedroom and bathroom doors, shower doors. Then we could do something more unified in our house. Brushed steel or nickel tracks suspended from the ceiling, with doors of metal, wood, and glass or wire mesh. It would look super mod and I could do things like enclose my dresser so the cats wouldn't get on it. It would work for bathroom cabinet door/mirror, and for the shower. Perhaps a sliding corner cabinet door, too?

I'm listening to Sia singing "Rewrite", and now "Sweet Potato." What amazing songs! They're all on the CD Colour the Small One. "Breathe Me" reminded me of the brilliance of putting that song over that final episode of Six Feet Under, with Claire (Lauren Ambrose) driving away from all she'd grown up with in her hybrid car, instead of the hearse. Sia's was such a perfect voice to express that feeling, that moment.

20 October 2008

Why I will vote for Obama

My sister has had some questions about Obama, and said in her most recent message that in conversations about him with liberals, her questions (like whether Obama has a legal birth certificate and can prove his citizenship) had been met with anger. This is an open letter in response to some of her comments and questions.

I suppose the anger you are encountering could be anger that Obama's citizenship is even in question, and that the real issues facing us are being obscured by petty and easily disproved technicalities. As a liberal, I have been feeling a lot of frustration, disbelief, and embarrassment around politics. I'm angry with myself for not having done everything I could to get people to vote in the last two elections; I never dreamed things would get this bad this fast. I do get indignant when I imagine four more years of Republican tax cuts for fat-cats and not for the folks who really need the breaks right now. (Especially since so many among us swallowed the fiction that we deserved more and therefore could just put it all on our credit card to come due some day and now holy shit it's that freaking day right now, a whole lot sooner than expected.) Some people thought we'd all be making more money by then, still cranking out more goods and services that the rest of the world couldn't match or live without. But now, at the end of Bush's reign, we are seeing a "talk-to-the-hand" free-market capitalist who has enriched a few and impoverished many, a lot of our skilled labor now being bought and sold overseas, and the rest of us picking over a much smaller, meaner range of jobs. We see a total believer in the trickle-down theory of economics (look it up on Wikipedia -- it's worth understanding, to know how these guys think). At the end of Bush's two terms, with a national debt of a gazillion dollars (see http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/ for the current amount) and a campaign of senseless destruction in Iraq waged on false pretenses, I can't say I see someone who has the good of his country in mind.

When I hear that McCain has voted with Bush 90 percent of the time, I don't have a lot of confidence that he is all about change. (And here are a few of my thoughts on Sarah Palin.) In my humble opinion, if McCain really stood for something new and different, I believe he should have started differentiating himself long ago so that by now he could have a real story to tell, something a little more current and relevant than "I survived the 'Hanoi Hilton' (and yet still support waterboarding)."

This summer, I went to Mount Rushmore with my family. As we listened to the stories they told about the legacies of the four presidents (Roosevelt, Lincoln, Washington, and Jefferson), I was angry at how far from their ideals our current administration has fallen. I have enough patriotic feeling for this country to take that offense personally; I feel completely let down by our current leadership. I knew when Bush took office that he would not be the best representative of my ideals, but I feel much more betrayed by his policies and attitudes than I ever believed I would or could.

These days, as you know, I get a lot of my information about the world around me from films. A couple of documentary films from the past couple of years made strong impressions and meshed with the feelings I am describing here. One was the one about the antimalarial drug, Lariam, called Taken As Directed. The other was Taxi to the Dark Side, which is about our government's policy and practice of putting people suspected who are suspected but never convicted of being terrorists (or merely associating with them) in places like Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Bagram in Afghanistan and torturing them, sometimes to death. I was furious when I saw that. It made me feel that the current administration's powers are out of control. I can't help being angry at myself now, since I have been one of the many people who has allowed this to pass unprotested. I feel a terrible responsibility for our nation having lost face in the world. We used to be a free and democratic people, tolerant and moral; with Bush & Co. as our chosen representatives, however, we seem fearful, reactionary, and willing to bend any rule for an immediate advantage. We seem just as capable of launching some kind of first strike as any of those "rogue nations" I used to feel threatened by after the Cold War ended.

Those are some of the reasons Obama's messages about hope and unity have great appeal for me. I would like to support a national leader who is interested in rebuilding something positive, who has a charitable interest in not just his fellow humans in this country but in his humans around the world. Too much of our country's current policy seems to be about getting and spending all we can now, and not enough is about building something sustainable and nurturing that will lift all boats here at home and by extension those abroad as well.

You can choose to believe those who would have you believe Obama is not a citizen, or is a Muslim, or is "just" a community organizer, but after having looked into some of those claims (and seen how easily debunked they are) I have concluded that they are all about fearmongering and are only distractions from the real issues at hand: namely, what are we going to do to fix this economic mess we're in? And how can we return to being a society with a leadership that treats everyone with respect and dignity?

This discussion you initiated seems like a good example of how effective that kind of fearmongering is: You didn't ask whether any of the candidates were taking stands on issues that were critical to your well being, but whether they were technically qualified to hold the office to which they aspire. I can't imagine that Obama could have come this far and spent this much of his and other people's money on his candidacy without all his papers being checked -- surely the man has a high-level security clearance by now, or we would have heard a lot more about it. You cited some figures about Chicago that carried the inference that Obama is personally responsible for Cook County crime rates; if you look at the history of that area, I think you'll find the picture is more complex than that. (Plus, crime rates are one of those things that always confound economists; they don't predictably correlate with any single factor but are influenced by a constellation of wildly differing variables in each community.) What I noticed was that you didn't say what your priorities are in a leader, nor what issues you would want to see tackled by the next administration. What would you vote for and why? And who do you think will be most likely to represent your interests?

I feel so fortunate as citizens of this country we have choices, and that we can solicit and receive a variety of opinions about those choices from everyone around us. I hope you'll spend some time considering your own beliefs and hopes for the future and cast your vote accordingly, after having done your own soul-searching (and internet-searching).

I have found some of the discussions and ideas on blogs about denialism a good resource for understanding rhetorical tactics in discussions like these. It really helps to be able to sort out researchable truths from fear-inducing disinformation.

May you vote thoughtfully and well, and for something/someone you truly believe in.

Peace be with you.

The next new thing

I've decided the next feature Google Earth should add is People View. Street View is amazing; you can get a bit of a feel for a place you haven't even visited. But I always want to check out what people are wearing, how cold it is, what the ratio of locals to tourists is, how hip or reg'lar its denizens aspire to be. And what a job: going to cities and snapping people on the street. That could be a WPA-scope project. Give people interesting jobs and potentially opportunities to create new connections. What else besides photos could people bring to each other, just by being on the ground somewhere? How could that benefit people?

19 October 2008

Making the world safe for Democrats

Matt Bai in today's New York Times Magazine: "Local [Virginia] Democrats told me that Obama's campaign office in the old maufacturing town of Danville was so unusual for a candidate of either party that its opening was treated almost as a curiosity, as if a smoldering meteor had smashed into the town green." My first thought when I read this -- and having just read that Obama has 50 campaign offices in Virginia, 42 in Indiana, and 45 in North Carolina -- was that Obama is making the world safe for Democrats all over the country. This is especially notable in places recent Democratic candidates have resigned themselves to losing. In his article, "Working for the Working-Class Vote," Bai cited Kerry's loss of Virginia by 9 percentage points in 2004, adding that it was "a relatively small margin when you consider that he never bothered to contest it." I was even more impressed to learn that in Texas, Indiana, and North Carolina, more people turned out to vote in the Democratic primaries this year than voted for Kerry on Election Day in '04.

Things might just turn out differently this time. And I'm ready to put a little of my own weight behind my words.

16 October 2008


This is super cool. Spill sand to make pretty pictures, which you can post to the gallery. Here's my sand art. Thanks, Centrechick.

09 October 2008

Movie phones and doorbell birds

This morning I was screening one of the films for the next BIFF. It is set in a South American country and depicts a way of life that is quite exotic to me from my mountainside perch in the arid inter-mountain west. I was also liking some of the sound editing on this film, including not only the ambient noise (talking, radios, tvs, people singing) but also the score, which is sparingly layered over all. It has interesting texture, nice beats, and at one point a marimba tune chimed over the film. When I heard the sound of a marimba melody, I jumped to look for my phone. I just did it again a minute ago, completely forgetting that the electronic internet device in my hand was also my phone. Silly!

Say, doesn't today's title sound like an album title? Hmmmm....

08 October 2008

Uploading fun

There are several things I feel I should be doing instead at this moment, but this one is the one that's calling. I feel like I'm starting to get the idea: the notion about standing up for what I believe in no matter what because a) no one will do it for me, and b) no one could do it for me because I'm the only one who has my perspective, my vision.

So I'm so excited that at this very moment the final video clip is downloading from my camera. Mmmm, all those movies I made in Chicago at the Baby Atlas bar, downstairs from Matilda, down the street from the Vic. I heard when some of the fellas from Gomez arrived in the upstairs bar after the show wind-down, at first they didn't know anything was up, but someone steered them down the incredibly steep staircase. "There's a sign, on the door, with your name on it!" "Oh, there is?" Can you imagine coming in and finding us -- 50 or so people who are in various stages from shock to delight to wonderment about your very presence and your talents, most with nametags, just on the other side of that door?

I am very excited about editing my videos! Woo! I may need to grab some new audio to replace some of the audio that may prove just too noisy and muddy for salvaging. I feel just like that editor I recently mentioned, Jen Dean, who said she realized what her role in film production was when she just wanted everyone to go away so she could be alone with the film. That's how I feel. And I think my pics are uploading to flickr, too, although I'm slightly less confident that this is really happening. We shall see.... *Edit* It wasn't happening -- my instincts were right on target. So I started that process over. And what I didn't take into account was how long it would take to get my videos into my creaky old version of iMovie.

Another funny story that I was reminded of, watching these video clips again: Many of us had nametags, most of us with our forum names on them. RuffStuff went outside for a few minutes, and a woman he'd never met before sidled up to him and said, "Hi, there, RuffStuff! I think you and I should go have a drink somewhere!"

Gomez started something for a bunch of us that feels like a continuation of an event that I feel a personal need to keep paying forward, carrying like an Olympic torch onward into new territory.

07 October 2008

Hallelujah, sister!

A new friend recommended The Glass Castle, a memoir by Jeannette Walls, to me on Thursday. I bought a copy of the book on Sunday. I have about five pages left to read, and I can't wait to talk about it. When I called my mother about it I said I would have been shocked if she hadn't read it; of course, she had, and had recommended it to me a while ago. My sister had read it too.

What a story, "of a girl growing up with extreme parents," as I just described it to a neighbor ("Were they really rich?" one of her sons asked. "No, in fact they were really poor -- and sort of chose to be," I said). The story is so plainly and beautifully told. I loved a couple of things best of all: Jeannette Walls' unerring instincts to do what was right and healthy for her (getting a job, encouraging her parents to do what parents are supposed to do, getting out from under her parents and going to New York as early as she possibly could). And I had a revelation when she described how proud she was of her brother when he graduated from the police academy and became a full-fledged officer while their father is saying he didn't know what he did wrong that his son was now part of the "Gestapo."

For me, that detail put so much in perspective. I saw how that wasn't about their father's world view; it was a symptom of his personality disorder. And it made me feel better about my own weirdly narcissistic, borderline father. It helped to think that those absurd words that have been rattling around in my head ever since he said them to me when I was proudly heading off to school at Berkeley ("I just can't support what you're doing with your life right now") weren't about his beliefs but about his own set of delusions. I knew it to some extent then but I really see now how his reaction didn't have anything to do with me or who I was. Like my mother said, there was no logic to it. In a sense, it wasn't "about" anything at all except the peculiarities of the brain of a man who had spent many years drinking and drugging himself into some kind of oblivion.

So thanks to everyone who led me to this book and these thoughts. I'm grateful to Jeannette Walls for believing in her own ideas of right and wrong, of health and illness. It makes me feel more compassionate for myself and everyone I know when I learn of others who have been able to rise above gnarly obstacles and choose healthy relationships, comfortable existences, stable places for themselves in the world, despite the lack of evidence during childhood that those things are possible.

06 October 2008

Rats, caked again!

Random notes from the great Chicago experience:

Note I jotted to myself after looking at a lot of tall buildings: "Here in Chicago, all the buildings have skins."

And another little scene from the post-show party with Gomez:

Me: [talking about heaven knows what and gesturing wildly, only to scoop a gob of icing onto my hand and then onto my ass]

Olly: You've been "caked!"

Me (embarrassed but delighted): Ooh, I didn't know that was a verb!

Later I heard several people had been similarly afflicted that evening by that cake. Too funny.

A fun tidbit to overhear was Ian talking about his kid and how he likes to mess with the tuning pegs, so as a challenge, Ian will pick up the guitar and play it the way his little boy tuned it.

ocean told me that he asked Olly which musicians he admires most. Olly told him he would be most awed to meet Tom Waits.

Catch me up

Well, at last I'm catching up on breath, sleep, family and cat time, food. And able to reflect a little from here.

I loved what people have been saying on the Gomez board about all of us -- regardless of who traveled to Chicago for the rock band's one-off-in-the-U.S. reprise of their first album -- never having to explain this Thing, this Love of Gomez, within this community. That was cool enough to experience last week; even more astounding was reality warp of suddenly being in the midst of a social occasion with the band in question. How many people ever get that chance?

More than one who has was in our midst have had that chance. ocean was a great example. (I loved meeting him and the fabulous Kim, whom I will share a plate with any time. Thanks to them, I had an amazingly fun trip to Chicago. I only hope in retrospect I didn't ask too much of their time!) Anyway, ocean has hung out with the Grateful Dead (and never found them all that gracious, truth to tell), with Robert Plant (his personal rock god), and with many others. He saw the Who with Keith Moon (I was just a couple of years too late); he saw seven of the fourteen shows Little Feat recorded for their live Waiting for Columbus album, can you believe?! (And which I had not been aware was made from so many shows.) Incidentally, ocean's trodden much of the same ground I have locally, too, having lived in my hometown, although he apparently interacted with a separate bunch of people along the way. He remembered some of the bands-about-town I do, like Tommy Bolin and Candy Givens of Zephyr, but not the awesome fusion powerhouse Fly and the Zippers or Dusty Drapes and the Dusters, who my mother was dancing to when she went out after she and my father split up. But enough about me -- what fine and fun people to hang with. I felt I'd known them for years.

And everyone was like that. centrechick, whose first-ever concert by anyone was Gomez, October 2, 2008, at the Vic Theater in Chicago, had been saying something about how one of the band members had more interesting content in his little finger than she did in her whole self, but I completely pooh-poohed that (on film, no less). She's awesome, and what's more, she's starting to Get It that she's not only just fine the way she is but maybe a lot more. I found myself as starstruck meeting jman and mrs. jman as I was meeting the band, especially after someone said to me, "I've heard she would fly to New York to buy a pair of shoes." And later I realized why I called jman "Jason" when I first met him: online I think of him and jasondent (who could not be in Chicago with us) as "the two Jasons," for some inexplicable reason. (Keep reading for more goofy misunderstandings.)

Cutest couple: guest & mr. guest. The way she looks at that man reminded me of how I feel about my sweetie. Dancing with mr. and mrs. rocknroll and Kat and guest for a while was amazing, and then it was fantastic going wild with ocean up front and center, and SweetErina and Barb up front too and squirrel and Drew and Stella and musicsaves (whom I may not have met) and rabidog and Bri and Kat and Fenn and the gracious and lovely mytvc15 and her significant other and I'm sure I'm forgetting lots more all around me. I kept looking around with amazement and gratitude at the crowd, just as I used to do at Dead shows. And it's easy to look back and say it in hindsight, but it was not possible for me not to see myself there. I feel I'm just as proud of making that experience a reality as centrechick said she was, in the cab with me and her friend Mitsuko on the way home. She'd just called her mother to let her know she was fine and on her way back to her hotel. Then she said to us, "Just so you know, at home, I don't even go to the movies by myself. So this is big for me!" Like Shannon, our new front-row kindred spirit, centrechick picked the right time to make things happen. She and lots of us talked with a bunch of the guys in the band. Olly was awesome. He's such a gentleman. I instantly regretted turning on my camera but I honestly didn't know what to do with myself and all the questions I'd had for them ("Where did the song 'Rie's Wagon' come from?" "Are you going to keep making records and touring together?") had long flown from my brain in the vibrating hum of the moment.

It was fun sharing our baby pictures, though. I do so love Ian, and have since before a phone interview in which he told a very simpatica me how he "loves the 'ladies' in West Hollywood," where he had just moved with his new wife. Back then I confessed his songs had me believing he was a gay junkie, and he laughed and said nothing. Later he'd said, "Sure, to some extent I do put on a persona onstage." (Does he remember that interview, or has he done too many -- and was he still drunk on the brandy Alexanders from the night before?) Look, there are faghags, and there are Ian-hags. Guess which I am. I'm sorry but the guy is freakin' cute. And he also has a very cute little one whose name in the din of the bar Mrs. ocean and I both misheard hilariously ("Was that m-u-e-l-l-e-r?" and me at dinner with Brains the next night: "Oh, his name is the Hawaiian word for chicken wire? Interesting!") Tom I love for his mind and wit. But I couldn't really think straight enough to have a good chat with him or Olly, or even approach Ben, with whom I may have the most in common out of all of them. Blackie and I had a pleasant jaw about racial segregation in Detroit and other places.

But I couldn't sustain anything that night: it was a little too loud, and the air was filled with too much pressure or some other ineffable substance that resulted from our all being thrown together in close quarters. I probably affected the mix by turning on the camera. I felt like the folks from the board had been warned I would be filming, and if anyone wasn't up for it, they'd let me know. In that time, that never happened, except for a feeble wave of a hand from one woman who continued talking with Tom when I swung my lens around toward them. All evening she kept saying no pictures (which made me suspicious -- does she have something to hide?) and later I heard she said "I never post there; I hate the board," but I don't think she really minded having Tom's attention while I was filming. I noticed, though, that I finally filmed the whole neon word when I panned around her while she talked with Tom: ASS. I could not help laughing when I realized what I'd done. All night most of my pictures and videos had only included the "SS" -- the word rose from the floor toward the ceiling, in enormous capital letters. But I had picked that moment to finally work it all into the frame.

Another hilarious moment culminated in my apology to mr. mytvc15 for not realizing who he was in the gang. I got dizzy and sat down. He was just the most welcoming and warm person; I thought he was the owner of the bar. He was being all chummy and was clearly a local, and when I got woozy he was one of the couple of people who asked if I was all right. I needed a Coke, and I asked him for one. He was so funny. "A Coca-Cola?" he asked, drawing out the long vowels. "A Pepsi-Cola? A diet cola?" "A cola-cola," I said. "No diet. Just cola." I needed the sugar. I'd just had a weird experience. I started eating appetizers and was enjoying one of the little roll-up baked bready tubes with pears and cheese and bacon inside, but then had a bite of the bruschetta and thought I was going to die. It's like it sapped my strength -- something about too much sharp vinegar. It was weird. I'd succumbed to my dizzy spell right after that.

"What is your name?" I asked him, and he said, "John. To you: John-John." And John-John-to-me as I think of him now was so attentive. I admiringly watched him dance through the room, mingling and smiling and chatting and making sure everyone was having a good time, and still not knowing he was part of our group I leaned over and said to Kim, "I want his job!" "What?" Kim said. It was hard to hear in there. ocean just laughed. "He's clearly in the hospitality industry," I said, full of admiration, like a groupie. "Well, yeah; he's a chef," Kim explained. "He is?" And then it all came out that he was mytvc15's husband and therefore one of the hosts. I felt sooooo silly, and not for the first time that evening. "I still want your job," I told him later, once I'd found out what it really was.

I told guest the next night that I had been so gullible that day. But it wasn't just that day -- it was all weekend. I believed everything I heard. (Me, asking about the three-song soundcheck we'd missed when Kim and I went for a walk before the pre-show free gig at Yak-zies, across from Wrigley Park: "What did they play?" Fenn: "They played 'Dude (Looks Like a Lady)." Me: "Really!")

Unspoken perhaps were all the questions that lurked in our minds about whether any of the band knew us by our board names/personas. I got a nametag but never found the marker, so never had a name all night. It's become a repeating motif: Gomez still don't know who I am, darn it!

But that's the nature of inspiration, right? That's why I went: to see what I could make of this, to see what parts are about Gomez and what parts are about me. To see who I am next to all of this. To go be me with some new people with whom I had something important in common for a few incredible hours of my life that I will never forget.

It was so intense meeting each person and seeing who they are "for real." I don't even believe it's still fair to say that face-to-face is the more real representation of the self. I think some of us are our truest selves online. But it was great fun to get this whole new layer of information about who we really were in person compared to all those online personas.

And I loved that I came right up against my own quirks: my gullibility, my glomming-onness, my social awkwardness (that I refuse to believe is a call for medication), my manias (I couldn't find things; kept wanting to change things that were perfectly fine). My desire to document everything, to set it down before I move on, to make sure there's a relic to savor later.

Something about the entire experience reminds me of getting back to my kidness, too: what I thought was important when I was little and still had some of that boundless optimism about the world and my place in it. I saw some before pictures of someone like that recently and I wonder what happened, and how I can make sure I never lose that sense of possibility. I love, as I've said here before, volunteering at my daughter's school so I can see the kids, so I can be another person who really tries to see them for who they are. They love that so: they sparkle so much when you do it, really peer in there and wave to them right where they are. That bright optimism is something I don't feel every day. But I did feel it when I decided to go to Chicago to unite with all these kindred spirits. And it absolutely was great fun to peer in and wave and hug and shake hands (and even a boob -- oops, sorry, rabidog! But I am quite sure you were the best possible person whose boob I could have squeezed upon meeting in person for the first time!). It was a delight to see who was who and how each person seemed to react to this amazing situation.

Again, it's more anecdotal evidence for that community-size notion that posits a community of 200 or fewer people is ideal and gives its participants a chance to have unique roles, to know each other better, and to reduce hierarchical distortions of relationships. I think we have that here: a community of around that size that was represented by a subset of folks who gathered in Chicago on October 2 to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of a band's first recording. Now that's a club I am truly a part of. It was wonderful to spend a whole weekend without having to explain it.

I am a little skeptical anything like this will ever happen again in my life, but I loved, loved, loved being a part of it and will never forget it, nor regret taking the opportunity to hang out with my favorite band and their friends for a few incredible hours.