Tuesday, October 26, 2010

introducing the giants

Productivity is at zero. Reading everything on the Internet about baseball.

Lots of reasons to love the Giants. Let me tell you about it. Primarily, like the city they represent, they're casual and fun with their weirdness. They bought out this lady with this hat (of the San Francisco skyline) to sing "God Bless America" during Game 5.

The remaining living members of the Grateful Dead sang the national anthem.

I especially like the weirdness that plays with masculinity. Take this guy, Brian Wilson. His punk/hipster style. His brown beard dyed black, which he claims he colors with a black Sharpie. In affect, hyperconfidence, alpha masculinity, wildness: the closer personality. A long clip, but you can see some of it here. Look how much this other man wants to impress him.

He pulls pranks like this one. It starts at :43.

Shit like this makes me wonder if he is a raging homophobe. If they all are. Aubrey Huff wears a red, rhinestone-encrusted "rally thong" for luck. These are frat boy jokes. A friend of mine, one of eleven female firefighters in FDNY at the time, told me that in the fire houses the men would pretend to hump each other; apparently this is how they expressed their disdain for homosexuality? The ways of man-groups are unknown to me. Still, because my sickness for Giants baseball is at fever pitch, I find this endearing, not yet abhorrent.

Then there is the man they call Panda, the pudgy third baseman who missed a tag in Game 5 because he couldn't stretch his leg to the bag. The catcher is a cherubic rookie with the fake-sounding name Buster Posey. Cody Ross, a man who pulls off the bald head and beard look, a reject from the Marlins picked up by the Giants two months ago, aspired to be a rodeo clown:
For years, Cody sat in the stands at every rodeo in full clown regalia - baggy pants with billowing colored scarves in the pockets - and full clown makeup.

He didn't abandon the dream until his dad quit the rodeo and moved the family to Dallas, where Cody blossomed as a baseball star.
But my favorite Giant by far is the skinny ace Tim Lincecum, the 26 year-old hippie/skater/stoner who was busted for misdemeanor pot possession a while back. After signing his contract, he told his agent his ambition was to buy a Volkswagen minibus. He can't stop saying "Fuck yeah!" on live television. He looks like he's sixteen and gets mistaken for the bat boy at away games. He walks around AT&T Park in flip-flops with his French bulldog. And he's a two time Cy Young winner and the best pitcher in the league. His demeanor is that of your average idiot stoner brother (we have all had one), as seen here in his promotional shoot for Giants Snuggies:

The outcome:

As if this is not enough, Lincecum is Asian-American!!!! Okay, half. His mother is Filipino!! Nawa'y pagpalain ka ng Diyos ng marami pang kaarawan!!! I bought a t-shirt.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

comparison shopping

Okay, BH says the switch from Georgia to Arial is disorienting. Let us compare these clean squiggles with the old, serify squiggles. I'll tell you what I did in Georgia, then I will tell you what I did in Arial.

Let me tell you what I did this weekend. I masturbated twice and spent probably two hours altogether watching porn or searching for "impotence" on Google Images (tip: HILARIOUS!). I have no idea why so many of my recent blog posts concern sex, except it probably has something to do with me turning thirty and not having something sucking on my nipples once every 2-6 hours. Immediately before time number 1, I ate probably two-thirds of a pillow-sized bag of Doritos Cool Ranch chips while reading about the Giants' NLCS victory. Friday night I already told you about. Saturday I woke at 11:30, did an exercise DVD called "Core Synergistics," played rainy day soccer with Boo, then took grandma and her five million pound wheelchair to a local cafe, where I taught her how to say "One low-fat decaf latte, please" and where we split a madeleine and a ham and egg scramble. In the early evening I drove up to Oakland listening to Katy Perry at deafening volumes, despite hating that b. Seriously, I detest her music like it's Pepsi or Burger King, Katy being Burger King to Lady Gaga's In-N-Out. Nobody likes a Number 2. Except Mao Asada, you cannot blame her for the freak bad luck of competing against the best figure skater of the millennium. Fucking Katy Perry, your contrived edginess, you imagine she's like the first of Eddie Murphy's marriage prospects in Coming to America, obediently jumping up and down on one foot and barking like a dog because she's been told to do so, putting on a blue wig because some music exec thought up the candy aesthetic right before a nocturnal emission. Lipstick on a pig, sheeple!! Artificial coloring! The soulless "Fine fresh fierce we got it on lock" versus the snarling "I want your ugly, I want your disease": no contest! What the fuck am I saying. OH despite detesting Fräulein Perry I NONETHELESS screamed along to "Teenage Dream" on the drive to a most delicious Laotian food dinner in Oakland. The lettuce-wrapped rice balls were like an erection of the mouth, but JY seemed extremely disappointed that Champa Garden was out of fried bananas and ice cream. Afterward, we retired to JY's artfully-arranged studio, where SW disclosed her foot anti-fetish (a story about a blood blister made her recoil in horror from the storyteller) and JY described her ambition to become a well-compensated personal organizer. ("I'm really good at packing trunks," she said, for the THOUSANDTH time.) Came home, Cool Ranch and consequences as described above. Sunday woke again after 11 a.m. Tiramisu, a mango tart, more Cool Ranch chips, coffee, cheese and even more chips went into my face within 120 minutes. I was so fucking bored today, ladies. Holy shit was I bored. I called my parents to hang out. They were busy. I called my grandma to hang out. MY GRANDMA REJECTED ME. Carry on with the TV and nap, Gram, I didn't want to hang out anyway. A colleague's work-related celebration only distracted me from excruciating unoccupied rainy Sunday afternoon boredom for an hour, then I went to a bike store and a camera store and barely managed to refrain from buying some very expensive new toy (the contenders were a new single speed and a micro four-thirds digicam) to fill the void of companionship in my life. Physical fitness, then more Giants-related Google searches, then two dinners and a half of a Sausage McMuffin have brought me to the present. I am such a fucking WASTE. I cannot WAIT until Monday. I am going to catch up on Jersey Shore now.

Now contrast the sedate new font for the new age: My weekend was marvelous! Today I dressed in matching clothes and unsoiled underwear, and attended a polo match fundraiser for Shih-Tzu Rescue with Brad and Chad. Afterward, Madison and I got couples' colonics at the new wellness studio in Aptos. The water was perfectly clean throughout!


I fiddled a little bit with the fonts on this page. Hysterical serifs seem so late 20s. Clean old Arial is more appropriate for my new decade. Tell me if this improves readability.

Faaaaack, guys, I have been writing this blog for six years. Twenty percent of a life! That's two bar admissions, three relationships, three cities, three laptops, three full-time jobs, three bands, four bicycles, four apartments, five internships, six roommates, a marriage, a divorce and a law degree.

I had a Friendster account when I started this blog. Yeah. Friendster.

It's time this goose started laying golden eggs, don't you think? I'm open to ideas on how to monetize six years of verbal diarrhea.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


By "magic finger," below, I meant "ring finger." The finger which indicates marriage and conservative family values. I intended no other meaning. Dear God, readers, scrub your minds. Bananarchist is a PG-13 blog.

we are here for each other

How fitting that a day after writing off all of God's children as imbeciles I should have an experience that renews my love for all of God's beautiful imbeciles. For anybody feeling disenchanted with life's offerings, I recommend volunteering for a queer youth Halloween dance.

The kids. Were so. Adorable. Have y'all seen teenagers? They are babies!! They are pimply, uncomfortable, mumbling babies. The younger teens arrived in the first two hours, in pairs and small groups, and stood around awkwardly fingering stray bangs behind their ears. They alternated between shyness and hysterical confidence, going from focusing intently on their sodas to running at each other for piggyback rides and then back to self-conscious, disconnected chatter. My camp counselor/herding instinct kicked in and I tried to corral the kids at one table so that they would speak to each other, and I was delighted when they finally did. This lovey-dovey pack of cute, uncomfortable midgets dominated until a large contingent of older kids from the queer Latino youth group (how I love the Bay Area!) showed up in drag and in high heels, and towered over the younger lumpen, who shrank off the dance floor and returned to their spots by the candy bowl. I spent a fair amount of time on the parquet inadvertently doing moves from Cardio Hula; pop music in 2010 is so good! I could listen to "Bad Romance" forever.

Tonight settled the outstanding question of what costumes will predominate at this year's Halloween parties. Long have I bored dearest patientest S. with "No costumes came out of this year's blockbusters! How can you dress Inception or Winter's Bone???", and now I have my answer: Jersey Shore and Lady Gaga. Italian-Americans of the mid-Atlantic win in 2010, so don't go running off to your carniceria, because half a dozen other Lady Gagas will be at whatever party you're heading to, attracting flies with their room temperature meat dresses. Remember that year everybody dressed as Roy Horn, with plush tigers attached to their faces? Halloween is so topical. Of course tonight the kids' costumes divided along the same lines as adults' costumes do, with slutty maids and slutty kitties on the one hand, and, for example, body-sized pumpkins on the other. My favorite was a kid who wore a gray sweatsuit and pieces of gray-painted cardboard and a gray bike helmet and swung a plastic sword and called herself "Joan de Arc," because I did the exact same thing when I was a wee lesbipup, except much worse, with my story ending with three months of hand-painting going into a school garbage can and me walking the elementary school Halloween promenade just wearing the gray sweatsuit, sniffling, and her story ending with happy calisthenics and triumphant self-assurance on the rented Jewish Community Center dance floor. I pretty much thought I would die from a heart attack of cuteness tonight. I told S. it was like watching Puppy Cam.

I've been volunteering for this organization for almost a year now. This is the same youth group I was in when I was a lad of sixteen. At a fundraiser for it I attended in March, I learned that my third grade teacher, a now 85 year-old man, was a flaming 'mo; later I visited him for tea at his house, which was decorated with Judy Garland photographs and Fauvist paintings, and he corrected my memory of my beloved fourth grade teacher, who was actually a bigot who disfavored black kids and made snide comments about the fey faculty members. He held his bad feelings against her for twenty years after her death! What I'm saying, I guess, is that these things come full circle. At least that's what the Mexican-American drag diva who performed tonight said. Mama Dora said seven gay teens had committed suicide in the last few months. Seven known suicides, that is, how many others we don't know. We are here for each other, she said. We are here for you. You are here for me. I fixed my eyes on a slim boy in sky blue Daisy Dukes and imagined him pulling me out of the rubble of my earthquake-destroyed metaphorical house. I believed, yes I did, I believed it could be possible.

Then Mama Dora said, "And now it is time to dance," and she began a Donna Summers song, and the older volunteer sitting to my right leaned over and said, "She was before your time, but this song was a huge hit when I was in high school." Let us all hope the boy in Daisy Dukes will someday be leaning over someone else and saying the same thing about Lady Gaga and her bad romance.

* * *
Post Script. The only negative thing I will say is that we are killing our youth from the inside. Edibles tonight were cheese pizza, chocolate Halloween mix (Snickers, Twix, M&Ms, and Almond Joy (vom)), candy Halloween mix (Nerds, Sweeties, LemonHeads (just three letters from NoEnamelHeads)), gummy candies, barbecue chips, tortilla chips, Doritos, Red Vines, chocolate chip cookies, mini-brownies, and Hansen's soda. The healthy offering was water. Wake up, sheeple! We must STOP feeding the FUTURE OF AMERICA this SHIT. Naturally I filled my face and went back for seconds, and carried on conversations with the uneaten half of a Red Vine wagging out of my mouth, but whatever, I have my degrees, my development is finished.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

blocking the plate

I went to a bar after work to watch the Giants game. Finally. All I ever wanted, all I ever needed was here in my amber ale, a cup of peanuts, a late October baseball game, and a noisy room full of unfamiliar faces. I intended to enjoy my tipple anonymously for the last three innings, then go home satisfied after the Giants had secured a World Series spot. Nobody talk to me, words are very unnecessary, I see nothing except Cody Ross's intriguing bald-head-with-full-beard style. Said my stern expression, my closed-up body language.

Bar was packed. I snagged a stool at an occupied table. Folks at the table - three middle-aged men and a middle-aged woman - were friendly and didn't seem to mind me joining. I settled in, jawed happily at my peanuts, and moved my eyes from one big-ass HDTV to another, trying to find the best view between the bodies of the bar's Silicon Valley worker/Stanford student clientele.

Then the woman chatted me up. I thought she was just being friendly because she identified something lost about me. She wanted to know my opinion about a San Francisco cabaret show. About Jackass 3D the Movie. About Borat. About the bartender. About the Phillies Phanatic. About non-native Californians. About Palo Alto High School. About Lockheed-Martin. About H.P. Lovecraft. About whether it was rude to check text messages while some chatty lady talked you up. (Guess whose thumbs were on whose phone when she said this.)

Half an hour into this, I realized that shouldn't feel guilty turning my attention back to the game even as she hooked me with these open-ended questions. I had thought at first how nice it was that she welcomed me, acted friendly, and wanted to know my opinion, and I felt obliged to give her all of my attention, until I realized that she was one of those people for whom talking is survival, and that she might die if she did not keep sounds coming out of her mouth, and that she talked to me not because I was interesting but because I was necessary, in the same way that people lost in the desert drink urine not because it is interesting but because it is necessary. I missed the f-bombing home run in the ninth inning because she was talking to me.

What clued me in to the selfishness of this woman's thirst for conversation was when she said something that made it clear that who I was had nothing to do with the conversation. She leaned in at one point to say, "Oh, those men. They're talking about signal-to-noise ratios or whatever, work stuff. Let's tune that out." For real, lady, you can't tell that a surly, articulate lezzie doesn't want to find camaraderie with you in acting like a bimbo? Once upon a time, I think when I was very very lonely, I thought talking to strangers was God's gift to human happiness, and I had often inane conversations with people I didn't know. Some conversations kept running because instead of stamping my foot and saying, "Sarah Palin thinks Africa is a country, you fucking redneck!" or "That huge SUV that is the object of all of your desires is one reason our youth are being blown apart in Iraq," I withheld my judgment and nodded my head as if what the person opposite me said made sense. I'm just a get-along, take-it-easy kind of person, I would think to myself, I'm learning a lot about the goodness in everybody by just being patient and overcoming my judgmentalness. Talk about insipid (and delusional, because deep down I still judged them) self-regard. I couldn't even identify when I was getting bored because I welcomed even the dullest sensations as reprieve from my horrible, insomniac loneliness. So I bit my tongue and withheld my judgment and pretended to see reason in beliefs I didn't agree with and had lots of very boring conversations and thought each one of them brought me closer to God.

Well, we are all God's children but some of God's children are imbeciles. It's taken me a while to admit this, and I don't know how to square it with the harmonious let-a-thousand-flowers-bloom persona I have cultivated on this blog in the last two years, but sorry, it's true. Some people are just not worth your time. I'm sure they are fine people who donate to charity and recycle and make their pets happy but I would rather just not know about it. Me from Chicago 2008 might have shrugged and said tp the woman, "Sure let's talk about something else," but I am thirty now, and as I have discussed below, being thirty means putting up with less shit, discriminating between productive and pointless uses of time, and feeling entitled to have my opinion considered. I did not want to swallow my bitchy smart-ass personality and pretend to be that insubstantial female who is confuddled by scientifrical words, for the sake of propelling a pointless conversation forward. So, I withdrew from the conversation, slowly, leaning away from the woman, keeping my eyes on the screen even during (ugh, why) credit card commercials, responding to her questions monosyllabically and only after a delay, until she returned to her husband and his colleagues' conversation about somebody's plush Cthulhu doll.

In writing this I see how passive I actually was. But I think that's fine. I didn't feel I needed to reject her more directly or make her feel bad; the important thing for me was just identifying when the costs of the conversation outweighed its value, and to stop burning up my energy on it when it happened. How come it took me thirty years to learn that not all experiences are good experiences? (I wrote a very similar sentence a year ago. I am apparently still learning.)

I still feel like a total a-hole.

And the Giants lost tonight. A major earthquake successfully delayed at least until Saturday's game.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

loma prieta, 1989

The Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 struck during the warm-ups of Game 3 of the World Series, Battle of the Bay, San Francisco versus Oakland. I loved baseball and was thrilled to have its October epicenter in my home country. Everybody on the planet was watching Candlestick Park when it swayed on live television, when the live feed went to emergency broadcast, when the stadium steps buckled. Then when a truck nose-dived off a missing chunk of the Bay Bridge. When the Cypress Structure pancaked forty-two motorists between its upper and lower decks. When homes slid apart like matchstick architecture. When sixty-three people died.

I was nine years old. I had just taken a break from watching TV with Richard to pee, and was sitting on the toilet when I realized the water in the bowl was splashing up at me in a funny way. The house was swinging - exactly like that, like our house had been placed on the seat of a swingset and given a violent push. A crash and a yell sounded from the living room and then I was in the hallway, bracing against the walls, barely walking, feeling upended in a way that a decade later I would come to associate with uncontrolled intoxication, and pulling myself down the hallway to the backyard, where my brother and mother and I gathered and huddled and watched as the water from the neighbor's pool splashed over our fence. The palm tree behind the house bent like it was going to break its neck. All the while, there was this rumbling, rumbling, rumbling . . . like a train rushing through the neighborhood.

In my memory, the shaking went on for forty-five minutes and then turned into the dull vibration of constant fear which was not fully calmed until I left the Bay Area, nine years later. In reality, the quake lasted forty-five seconds, and the dull vibration of fear - well, I can't speak for other people's realities.

One strange thing that came out of the experience for me was learning to associate the warm feeling of belonging to a community with natural disasters. The earthquake gave me the opportunity, for the first time, to see all of my neighbors at once, emerging dazed from their homes, moving slowly from their driveways in clusters toward the center of the street and then just standing there, dumbstruck, immobile. I had never before believed these ghost houses held life - all one sees in the suburbs is one lonely metal capsule pulling in or out of a garage once an hour - but all of a sudden there it was, my street, my neighborhood, my people. Despite her shyness and crappy English, Mom must have exchanged comments with the prolific Mormon parents to the south and crotchety dog owners to the north, but I can't remember, and it didn't matter; words spoken or not, those were the people who would be pulling my skinny, golden brown California body from the rubble of my flat-topped three-bedroom house (should it tragically come to that). A powerful aftershock shook the leaves on the sycamore trees as we stood out there waiting.

When the earthquake hit, my spry eleven year-old brother had leapt out of the way of the three eight-foot tall entertainment center cabinets that pitched forward on the very spot he had been sitting and watching the game. That was the crash and the yell I had heard from the bathroom. I didn't really register the danger he had dodged but greatly admired my older brother's taekwondo-trained reflexes. Later, Richard and I busied ourselves sweeping up the detritus from the cabinets. "It's safety glass," he said, noting that the glass had broken into corn kernel-sized chunks rather than slivers and splinters. I thought "safety glass" meant safe glass, so I plunged - I don't know why I didn't test it first with some gingerly touching, but that's just how I did things, I guess - I plunged my hand into a bag we'd filled with pieces of glass, and pulled it out etched with itchy filamentary cuts. Nobody supervised this; Dad had yet to send word or show up from work, because the phone lines were dead and the bridges were closed and traffic was standstill on the highways, and Mom had her hands full with worry.

Public schools refreshed their earthquake curricula after the quake. How to horde water, flashlights, canned food; how to duck and cover; how to cower in a doorframe. I sat through the instruction thinking, "Why couldn't you have taught me this earlier??" Some strange Pavlovian conditioning made me associate the sound of the school bell with earthquakes: it rang once for recess, and twice for an earthquake drill, of which there were plenty in the days following the quake, but soon I came to associate the one-ring recess bell with shaking and violence and death, and for months afterward the sound signaling gay childhood playtime would also trigger in me physiological reactions of panic, i.e., elevated pulse, sweating, anxiety. My teacher never seemed to notice my fright at the beginning of every recess. The same thing happened with the rolling closet door in my parents' bedroom: its dry rumble sounded exactly like the rumbling I heard during Loma Prieta, so each time my parents went for a change of clothes, I would lay in bed gripping the sheets, breathing raggedly, waiting for the shaking to start. 1989-1990 was a very emotionally difficult year for me.

In school we learned that the San Francisco Bay Area straddled the San Andreas and its dozens of splinter faults. We were told to expect one major earthquake every 20-30 years. I recall thinking, as a nine year-old, that I loved California but wanted to leave it because earthquakes terrified me; I vowed to return in 2019, after the window for the next Big One closed. As it were, I left California but moved back in 2009, exactly when this big, dark Transylvanian castle of a window opened.

All to explain why as delighted as I am that the San Francisco Giants are one win away from another World Series, I hope to hell they don't make it all the way. I blame everything that happened in 1989 on the Giants reaching the World Series. I was an A's fan. In sum, go Phillies.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

bike shorts

So nice when friends recognize my love of obscenity. O writes:
K and I saw these in Florence, thought it was bike shorts designed for you, but they aren't padded. So we thought a picture would suffice.

Friday, October 15, 2010

claire de lune

I could not tell if K. was being sarcastic when she told me to help myself to her parents' heirloom tomatoes. She seemed to be embarrassed by how much care they had taken in growing them . . . so was she inviting me to eat, or to share her disdain for the hobbies of old people? I went to the kitchen counter and rooted out the sweetest and least damaged-looking ones while she sat down at a piano in another room and started playing Claire de Lune.

After I had picked over the crop, I stood to the right of the piano, eating tomatoes and turning the pages for her. She was nervous - "I don't ever play for anybody, I just like to play for myself," she said, with some defensiveness - but I watched her slender fingers hesitate and then find purchase, over and over, and I remembered those distant feelings of fondness that I used to feel when watching her, a dozen years ago. When she finished, I played a few bars from a vaudeville song and then a drinking song, but stopped when she said, faintly, "You're pretty good."

Except for the music, the house was dead silent. Her parents were backpacking at Mono Lake. Things in the house were as I remembered them from a dozen years ago, but slightly improved. The central heating had been replaced with a woodstove, though neither were necessary in July. The wallpaper in the bedroom was still a floor-to-ceiling photograph of a nature scene, but the alpine forest from our teenage years had been replaced with a stand of autumnal birch trees. K.'s belongings, once packed into two duffels, were exploded all around the room. Books, clothes, gadgets. Immigration would not yield the visa she needed to get to the job promised to her in London, so she was stuck in Palo Alto.

It was nighttime and past the very large windows of the living room I could see the tattered windsock under the porch light, moving in the summer breeze, and nothing more. There was only a windsock and darkness outside of the house. So the vampire fiction K. favored of late was hard to stomach after sunset, she said. "It's fucking scary."

She told me about spending entire days lying on the ground, reading, failing to find the motivation to leave the house. "I just don't see any reason to get out anymore," she said, half laughing. "But if I'm really motivated I can get myself to the coffee shop . . . highly recommend it." I lay on a couch opposite her, not looking at her, pressing her family's collection of tropical seashells into my eye sockets. "Damn," I said, "Damn." What else do you say to somebody so unhappy? What do you say when somebody's inflection makes it impossible to ask, in a quiet voice, what you really want to know: "Why do you still believe sincerity is weakness?" What happened to you? I left by bicycle a few minutes later.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

30 before 30: self-assessment

I recently turned 30. (Thank you to all of the wonderful friends whose love and support on my birthday made me excited to start my fourth decade of life!) I am trying to note changes in my personality resulting from age, but it's hard to tell with only a few weeks of information. I predict: less putting up with other people's shit, more feeling entitled to have my opinion considered, continuing moderation of viewpoints (e.g., there is too much sex on television! The Madonna episode of Glee embarrassed me!), whole different topics for anxiety (physical decay, my own and my friends' family structures, career advancement, another decade of global warming, aging parents?), and . . . spirituality? I also predict in the next ten years another pop cultural phenomenon for single 30-something women in the 21st century, since Sex in the City killed itself off with that second movie and Eat Pray Love resolved with a perfect cadence.

In July, R and O and I sat down to write some lists. R wrote the 31 things she wanted to accomplish before turning 31 (she had seven months); O the 30 things before she turned 30 (she had a year); and I wrote my 30 before 30 with two months to go. Here is how I did:

30 Before 30

1. Take Mom and Dad to Crystal Springs Reservoir
The idea was to take them to this local nature spot, so that I could spend quality time with them and introduce them to a Bay Area treasure while getting them to walk off their fat. This goal was too specific. F.

2. Take Grandma to the movies
I give myself a high grade even though I did not take Grandma to the movies because circumstances changed: she is too immobile to sit in a theater for two and a half hours. So, I brought the movie to her, and we watched "Labyrinth" in my house. Also, she hurt her back two weeks ago and can barely walk, so I have been spending about an hour per day with her, giving her massages, taking her on wheelchair walks, and watching a really bad Chinese soap opera with her. More on this unexpected time with Grandma in another post. A.

3. Move to [redacted], or make definite plans to move
Discretion commands me not to say much. S frets that I won't actually follow through because I haven't figured out the career aspect of this, but this goal was more about getting myself there emotionally. Logistics will follow. B+.

4. Record three more songs
One for S on July 4th. One for a songwriters' group in Oakland that I joined. One to explain my early retirement plans to my boss. They are sloppy, but the goal was to record three more songs, not record them well. A.

5. Participate in something performative (reading, music, other)
Not what I had in mind, but I played the aforementioned second recording for the songwriters' group in Oakland. I'm counting this. B.

6. Finish bedside book pile
The problem with this was that I did not take an inventory of the books by my bed when I made this goal, and then I added ten more books to this pile with impulse purchases, borrowed books, and library reserves. I did read seven books since July, but were they the ones I intended to read? C-.

7. Discover two new bands that I really like
Eh. I went to see the Spinto Band and Miniature Tigers with JY at the Hotel Utah. I don't know that I really like them, but I liked them. They're both cute, sweet, electro-pop rock bands, the former a bit more frantic and young, the latter more mature and mellow. B.

8. Win one bet against O
During our San Francisco shopping expedition, O bought me a discount cropped cardigan and dared me to wear it (and only it) on our weekend bikeabout with R and to pretend like it was something I intended to incorporate into my everyday wardrobe. I cannot overstate how convincingly this appalling article made me look like a banana muffin. Unfortunately, I left it behind for the ride and lost that bet. We also have a bet going about whether I can finish P90X, but we won't know the outcome until Thanksgiving. I'm still on the wagon after seven weeks. C.

9. Run the San Francisco marathon
4:05:07. Also decided to do the San Jose Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon last week. 1:47:21. A.

10. Go to eastern California or northern northern California
Desolation Wilderness with S. A.

11. Buy more contact lenses
What is there to say? I'm awesome at buying contact lenses. A.

12. Go camping again (Lost Coast?)
See #10. A.

13. Do another bike-about/food odyssey with R and O (balut in South Bay?)
R and O and I do "bikeabouts," where we tool around the Bay Area on our bikes, stopping frequently to eat things. In the winter and spring we did bikeabouts to a taco truck in Niles and a donut shop and a chaat store in Sunnyvale. In July we did a 41 mile ride to and from Fremont to the Olivera Egg Ranch in San Jose. It turned out that balut was sold as live fertilized eggs from this egg ranch, so we decided against carrying unhatched chickens in our jersey pockets and instead went to the nearby farmers market for Mexican tamales, Indonesian tamales, white nectarines, and kettle corn. A.

14. Try to go jogging with Mom (or encourage her to do some aerobic activity)
This is a tough one. My parents really need to exercise. It's very hard to motivate them. I ended up buying six workout DVDs. The one that stuck was Cardio Hula for Beginners, which has introduced the "Tiki pump" move into my dance vocabulary. Still I'm finding it hard to change my mom's habits, but we have done this workout a few times together now. C+.

15. Bike with Dad to Union City
Nope. The idea behind this one was to spend more time one-on-one with my dad and also to get him to exercise. We have done Cardio Hula together a few times ("Step, two, three . . . now uwehe!!"), but no biking. D.

16. Find renters
Done. A.

17. Decide whether Boo can live with me when I move
Alas, no. Logistically difficult, plus my mom does not want to part with him. F for heartbreak, but A for effort.

18. Get to a stable place with S
Any answer I give here is counting balut before it is hatched, but I still think we're doing pretty well. My magic finger measures 44 mm in circumference, honey! Pass?

19. Do a weekday night hike with R and O and friends to spy on friends' relationship
Rancho San Antonio on a Thursday night, followed by fish tacos. Turns out it was less spying on a relationship and more pushing two unworthy men toward O. Neither stuck, but the gorge was very pretty. R entertained us by asking questions from the geography trivia quiz she had participated in at work that afternoon. What Middle East country consumes the most water per capita? Egypt. A.

20. Spend time with BH
Not as much as I would have liked, but there is more time in the future. S and I went to her place and gutted anchovies, watched video clips of talented Indian kids dancing and crying, and then attempted to do "smokey" eye makeup with B's limited tools. B- (for not spending more time).

21. Spend time with HK and KW
Total fail. Some email tag, no h.o. F.

22. Spend time with JY
Same as #20: not as much as I would have liked. J did come down from Oakland one Saturday to make zongzi with my grandma, where she made a very convincing and guai granddaughter, albeit with a strange Chinese accent. Then I gave her the bottle of wine that S and I had bought for her in Healdsburg and she said, "Oh no! I don't drink!" Party foul! B- (same reason as above).

23. Try Richard's mountain bike at Arastradero Preserve before work one morning
I pumped up the tires. Does this count? F.

24. Learn to cook five more of Mom's dishes
Tea eggs, sea bass, cucumber salad, zajiang stir fry, chili tot pie. A.

25. Do something nice for S's birthday
I wrote her a book called Y.O.M.S. I think this deserves an A?

26. Read "The Nine"
Why is this on my list? F.

27. Write something every day
I can't keep track of things that happen every day. But I did start a creative writing class at Stanford, which is pretty exciting. C-.

28. [Redacted]
Decided against this. F.

29. [Redacted]
Simply failed. F.

30. [Redacted]
Decided against this. F.



s on m on cunnilingus

Let me just note that S's main criticism of my description of cunnilingus was: "[Bananarchist], you can't foul in tennis. It's called a fault."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

an honest review of tough mudder

I will admit: I did not want to like Tough Mudder. I was skeptical of its tough guy schtick. The Maxim-style copywriting on their promotional materials. The free beer-and-tattoos fratmosphere. The seemingly desperate association with military/law enforcement manliness. (The words "counter-terrorism" appear within the first 250 words of their FAQs page). In my experience, people who boast about being tough are not. You have to earn tough, you can't just declare it. But here, all this talk of tough was marketing churn dreamed up by two very fresh Harvard MBAs.

A testimonial from a law firm partner on the Tough Mudder website suggested to me that the event was a glorified ropes course for beta males who need artificial challenges to cement their corporate relationships without the risk of accidental penis-to-penis touching.

(You can imagine how excited the photographer was to snap this shot.)

So. I did not want to go when it came time to go.

A little background here: Tough Mudder is a running race. Kind of. The course I signed up for would be a seven-mile hike on dry ski slopes near Lake Tahoe, in eastern California. There would be eighteen obstacles that would have us belly crawling under barbed wire, wading through mud, climbing walls, and just plain grinding up steep mountainsides. One mystery obstacle would be disclosed at the start of the event. (Secrets revealed: the mystery obstacle was a shot of Tabasco sauce.) You aren't being timed, and you generally participate in teams of up to 20 people, so it's more a group bonding fitness event than a competition.

I was worried the event would be too disorganized, too expensive, and too dangerous. I had read other reviews about how the organizers of the event made rookie mistakes, like making the obstacles too small to handle the volume, so that participants had to wait forty-five minutes to climb a obstacle. And what the hell do two Harvard MBAs know about structural engineering? I foresaw a poorly-constructed log pile obstacle collapsing on top of me like an Aggie bonfire, shearing my limbs, crushing my organs . . . and then, as the light dimmed, a sheet of filler paper yawing like an oak leaf toward my face, signature first, with angelic voices saying "You idiot, you signed a death waiver."

More background: I am naturally inclined to be a floppy pud. If left in one place, I will stay in that place, like an unstimulated pudendum. I definitely did not want to drive four hours on a Saturday morning to roll around in somebody else's sweaty mud.

R. and O. convinced me not to be this person. We had already spent the $150, they said. It would be a nice excuse to get up to the mountains. If we felt tired we could just ignore the obstacles and walk the course.

So, I went. We made the drive to Bear Valley from the Bay Area, listening to O.'s indie rock mixes (Temper Trap, the XX, and mysteriously, Journey) and R. calling out the Gold Rush towns along the way ("Copperopolis!"). I ate half a family-sized bag of kettle corn and passed out with a sarong wrapped around my head.

(Manna from heaven.)

We got there an hour before our start. There were the usual prerace preliminaries. A long walk from the parking lot. (They charged $20 for "premium" parking if you wanted to avoid the walk. Lame.) A chaotic mob scene in the bib distribution queues. Shirtless, meaty men smelling up a room. Some bodypainted, some wearing funny costumes. The ratio of men to women in the room was three to one, so I made a point of loudly declaring, "I just don't see how I can do this without getting a yeast infection!!" and smiling sweetly when heads turned. (More background: I am a woman. And you have to be kidding me: three hours, seven miles up and down mountains, in muddy synthetic underwear? Yeast we can!) Getting our race numbers written on our foreheads in Sharpie, mandatory. T-shirts, safety pins. Bag check. Last-minute chomping on raisin bread. Finding the rest of the team, O.'s friends from work, and drawing hearts and American flags on our arms. Photos by the flaming logo. Sunscreen. Lining up for the wave start.

Here the organizers had us stand for the national anthem. I can do that. I love America. But then the man with the microphone asked us to repeat the "Tough Mudder Pledge," which involves words about being fierce, unwhiny, helpful, tough.

No, no, no. I do not do pledges. Here is the reason why:

During the Korean War, many captured American soldiers found themselves in prisoner-of-war camps run by the Chinese Communists. It became clear early in the conflict that the Chinese treated captives quite differently than did their allies, the North Koreans, who favored savagery and harsh punishment to gain compliance. Specifically avoiding the appearance of brutality, the Red Chinese engaged in what they termed their "lenient policy," which was in reality a concerted and sophisticated psychological assault on their captives. After the war, American psychologists questioned the returning prisoners intensively to determine what had occurred. The intensive psychological investigation took place, in part, because of the unsettling success of some aspects of the Chinese program. For example, the Chinese were very effective in getting Americans to inform on one another, in striking contrast to the behavior of American POWs in World War II. For this reason, among others, escape plans were quickly uncovered and the escape attempts themselves were almost always unsuccessful. "When an escape did occur," wrote Dr. Edgar Schein, a principal American investigator of the Chinese indoctrination program in Korea, "the Chinese usually recovered the man easily by offering a bag of rice to anyone turning him in." In fact, nearly all American prisoners in the Chinese camps are said to have collaborated with the enemy in one form or another.

An examination of the Chinese prison-camp program shows that its personnel relied heavily on the commitment and consistency pressures to gain the desired compliance from prisoners. Of course, the first problem facing the Chinese was how to get any collaboration at all from the Americans. These were men who were trained to provide nothing but name, rank, and serial number. Short of physical brutalization, how could the captors hope to get such men to give military information, turn in fellow prisoners, or publicly denounce their country? The Chinese answer was elementary: start small and build.

For instance, prisoners were frequently asked to make statements so mildly anti-American or pro-Communist as to seem inconsequential ("The United States is not perfect." "In a Communist country, unemployment is not a problem."). But once these minor requests were complied with, the men found themselves pushed to submit to related yet more substantive requests. A man who had just agreed with his Chinese interrogator that the United States is not perfect might then be asked to indicate some of the ways in which he thought this was the case. Once he had so explained himself, he might be asked to make a list of these "problems with America" and to sign his name to it. Later, he might be asked to read his list in a discussion group with other prisoners. "After all, it's what you believe, isn't it?" Still later he might be asked to write an essay expanding on his list and discussing these problems in greater detail. The Chinese might then use his name and his essay in an anti-American radio broadcast beamed not only to the entire camp, but to other POW camps in North Korea, as well as to American forces in South Korea. Suddenly he would find himself a "collaborator," having given aid to the enemy. Aware that he had written the essay without any strong threats or coercion, many times a man would change his image of himself to be consistent with the deed and with the new "collaborator" label, often resulting in even more extensive acts of collaboration.

Thus, while "only a few men were able to avoid collaboration altogether," according to Dr. Schein, "the majority collaborated at one time or another by doing things which seemed to them trivial but which the Chinese were able to turn to their own advantage . . . . This was particularly effective in eliciting confessions, self-criticism, and information during interrogation.

(Influence: The Psychology of Persuasian)

You see? There are psychological risks to moving your mouth along to words you don't believe.

Brainwashing did not end with the pledge. The organizers led us in a call and response: "When I say Tough, you say Mudder. Tough!" "MUDDER!" "Tough!" "MUDDER!" The curmudgeonly Chinese girl with bunions stayed silent but mouthed, "Candi! DA! Candi! DA!"

Then the starting gun, and we were off.

And I will now admit: I really liked Tough Mudder. Really.

It was physically much harder than I thought it would be. The atmosphere was friendly and festive, not rape mob. And I and all of my companions had a great time.

First, the physical aspect. We drove from sea level to 6,000 feet in a day, so our lungs were already struggling, and on top of this going up and down seven miles of dry black diamond runs really brought the burn. Many people started out running - some asshole sprinted up the first hill - but by the slope at the second mile, all were walking. We had to walk, anyway; there was a bottleneck at one section that involved tricky maneuvering down the rocky singletrack path. I thought the obstacles would take up more time, but it was more like half a mile of hiking uphill, followed by hopping through twenty truck tires, and then back to hiking half a mile uphill.

And the obstacles: turns out I have to psych myself up to leap into cold shitwater swamps. I did not know this about myself. I thought I wouldn't have a problem, especially after watching a line of people in front of me go through the experience, but still I hesitated whenever confronted with something wet, cold, and sticky. Only adrenaline and peer pressure pushed me forward.

Most memorable of the obstacles were a chilly uphill 100-meter dash through snowmaker clouds and the mud pits they made, a belly crawl through a wet gravel pit where one had to push other people's muddy sneakers out of one's face, and a snowboard bowl turned into a freezing bacterial vaginosis pond that one had to wade across to continue. I almost lost my marbles on the last one. Halfway through, my joints and lungs seized up from the shock of the cold water. I felt winded and paralyzed, and in a hell of a lot of pain. I only made it because O.'s cheerful obliviousness to my panic left no other option but to push on. That crazy bitch seemed genuinely happy to be in that wastewater.

(The birthplace of infections.)

For most of the race, I was hungry, thirsty, and tired, but safe and motivated, and that was a privilege worth paying for. You really do get an extreme experience out of it, even if you're putting down money to have ambulances and support staff around you while you're making the declaration of your toughness. (Note that there was only water offered two or three times, and no food. Bring your own, if you want it.)

Plus this event had spirit. Around mile three, we started hearing an unseen crowd going, "Oh!! . . . oh . . . OH!!!" We rounded a bend and saw participants lining up for the next obstacle (a vault over a Brobdingnagian metal spool), and making supportive, sympathetic sounds as they watched the failures, who, like me, ran directly at the thing and face-planted against its side. It wasn't a chatty race, but the general feeling was one of helpful camaraderie rather than competition. And for all my skepticism of the group-bonding artifice, I did feel very endeared to my teammates, who lifted me over pommel horses and pulled me out of tunnels.

We did not, however, stick around afterward to drink our free beers or listen to the terrible San Francisco band.

(The aftermath: muddy shoes in the trashbin.)

Also, eastern California is eyeball-shatteringly beautiful. I love to be sweating outdoors. Are those not reasons enough to go? Enough said.

(Bear Valley is in the Stanislaus National Forest.)

One big benefit of participating in this event was driving up to the Sierras and back with old and new friends. Third to picnicking and walking, driving long distances is my favorite way to spend time with people. It has all the attributes a shy social retard like me needs for a successful personal interaction: extended time together, something else to talk about and focus your eyes on besides each other, a journeying feeling (sometimes a Journey feeling too), and an excuse to play word games and eat Sunchips. I am going to use these West Coast methods to draw my friends away from the dark, noisy, awkward, expensive feeding boxes of the East Coast.

Where was I before this geographical gloat? Oh yes. Sorry. Tough Mudder. All good, very good, slightly pricey, slightly gimmicky, difficult and fun. Would I do it again? Yes. Eventually. Call me if you want to go.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


We raise a toast at O's 30th birthday. X says, "If you touch glasses without eye contact, it's seven years of bad sex." I say, "That explains the first seven years," but nobody hears me, and we drink.

On the drive there, H has occasion to say, "I love lesbians." He declares, to the other dyke in the car, his happiness at finding a drinking buddy who is both highly tolerant of alcohol and a lesbian.

The drinking buddies get into a friendly football screaming match in the long ride home from Santa Cruz. "Eli Manning only had twelve interceptions last year!" "Yeah, but four were in the same game! And I know that because he fucked up my stupid fantasy football season!" V is nervously negotiating the mountains' curves, and asks me to break up the noisy fight. I say, "Let's go back to talking about sex!", to no avail. I shout, "Sex! Sex! Sex!" again and again, as they shout, "Walter Payton was not Peyton Manning's father!" and "The Giants' Superbowl was a fluke!" Finally, I scream, "DRIPPING VULVAS!!!" There is a moment of silence in the car. "Oh wait," says H, "Dripping vulvas?"

I find myself later giving unsolicited cunnilingus advice to a friend. We call it "skeet shooting," so that other patrons in the make-your-own-salad restaurant will not have to suffer our foolishness. I draw a pomegranate and a mouth, and say things like, "This is soft tissue; and this is also soft tissue," and draw arrows connecting various parts of the mouth with various parts of the pomegranate. I realize I have delivered very poor advice when my friend points to my friend's nose and says, "So you're saying I should use . . . ?"

My friend, let me try this again. Cunnilingus is not a two-dimensional pomegranate. Cunnilingus is a tennis match. But you do not play against your partner; you play with your partner. Both of you are on one side of the court, the illuminated side. The other side is shrouded in shadow. Your partner feeds you balls, and you serve them as quickly as you can to the dark side. Sometimes you foul. Sometimes you ace. The balls go unreturned into the void. You do this until your rotator cuff is sore, and you are coming to the end of your ball bucket, and you think it is all for naught, when suddenly -- after a long, expectant pause -- the dozens of balls you have successfully served over the net are simultaneously launched back at the two of you like bright green buckshot -- there's some pun about muzzle velocity here -- and it is all you and your partner can do to plant the racket in the clay and huddle like a pair of frightened hoplites behind your shield until the barrage of neon balls is over. Then you embrace and sometimes cry, and your vision is filled with Vladimir Putin's grinning head against raw meat.

S says, "You make yourself seem like you're so liberated but actually you're the biggest prude." This is something of a disappointment to S, who believes my next creative project should be a lesbian coming of age memoir plus cunnilingus tips.

I say, "You're right, I can only talk about sex in euphemism and metaphor." Under my breath, unheard by the toasting celebrants. As visions of Vladimir Putin. As Rafael and Roger versus the dark half of the court. Imagine it: Nadal and Federer in a sweaty post-coital hug, their little white shorts riding up the damp rondures of their young buttocks, Nadal saying in his Majorcan mumble, "Baby, where'd you learn to . . .

Okay, I had an entire dialogue written out there, but then I tapped the backspace button a hundred times. I cannot bring myself to leave it in this post. You will have to supply the rest of that erotic fiction for yourself, as if you haven't already.

Meanwhile, I am having one of those woman days where you look down in the toilet and you think, "Who upended a jar of grape jelly in there?"


Dad: My greatest contribution to this family is successfully preventing everybody from becoming infected with hepatitis.

Monday, October 04, 2010


Stop reading this if you fear TMI. So I was taking a ride on the self-love express a few weeks ago, like we all periodically do, don't pretend that you don't, and when this train pulled into the station, this image popped into my head (and here I wish I were exaggerating or kidding): Vladimir Putin's head superimposed over grocery store circular ads of meat.

(How do you like my Microsoft Paint skills??!)

Later, I remembered that the very first sex toy I bought was a champagne pink translucent dildo I named Vladimir. (Vlad the Impaler, get it???)

For the last month, I have been writing a paper on the discovery of electronically-stored information under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and now I am wondering exactly what kind of a lawsuit I need to get myself involved in so that this particular post might be shown as an exhibit to a jury. "Ladies and gentlemen," the weaselly plaintiff's counsel will say, "I present to you Plaintiff's Exhibit 1 -- which will definitively prove that Defendant Bananarchist breached her fiduciary duty to WestCo Products by failing invest pension funds exclusively for the benefit of the ERISA plan participants and beneficiaries in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 1104 -- an image of Vladimir Putin's head superimposed on meat."

teach a fish to cook

Dad: I need to clean out your heater filter. It's very dusty.

Me: I can do it myself. You don't have to do it for me.

Dad: No, it is very delicate. You have to brush it very gently [demonstrates slow four-fingered combing motion, like a slow-motion wave goodbye]. With a fan blowing in front of you so the dust is lifted away.

Me: Teach a man to fish, Dad.

Dad: Teach a . . . ? Teach a woman to . . . cook, and she can . . . cook . . . no no, that's a stereotype. Teach a man to cook, and he will know how to cook. [Walking away] Teach a man to cook, and he will cook forever.

birthday erotica

A few weeks ago, I posted requesting to be written as a peripheral character into erotica for my thirtieth birthday. Unbeknownst to me, my most wonderful S. sent the call out to my friends and gave me, on my birthday, a compilation of often hilarious, entirely batshit crazy responses from the people who matter the most to me. Most came back with sweet and funny and well-written PG-rated responses, but two especially unhinged friends gave me the gift of erotica. I present their submissions below.

  • "Delivery from Doldrums," by JY

  • Cara jumped away as the rear door of the UPS truck came down with a crash, the shiny brown metal glinting like a knife. “Damn, I could’ve had my ankle chopped off!” she thought. It had been a rough day. She started her new route today and the mid-morning was stretching into infinity. It was a warm spring day in Palo Alto and she wanted to be in a park somewhere lying on soft grass. She brushed her honey colored bangs aside, adjusted her ponytail, and sighed as she loaded the dolly with packages. She walked into the law offices of [ ] and was greeted by the receptionist as she entered the lobby.
      As Cara waited for the elevator she caught a glimpse at the secretary out of the corner of her eye. “Pretty cute.” The elevator doors were about to close when an arm shot between them and a voice called out “Hold the elevator!” A young woman entered the elevator. Her cheeks were slightly red and she carried a bicycle helmet underneath her arm.
      “Good morning,” she said and smiled.
      “Good morning,” said Cara smiling back. “Have a good ride?”
      “Yeah it was okay. I don’t live too far from here so I always ride my bike but today I’m kind of late for work so I busted ass to get here. Where’s Jerry, the usual guy?”
      “He transferred to another city. Had to move because his wife found another job.”
      “Ah I see. Well welcome! My name’s Bananarchist.”
      “Hi, I’m Cara.” The elevator stopped.
      “Well Cara, I’ll probably be seeing you around.” Bananarchist said cocking her chin and smiling. She stepped out of the elevator and walked a few steps forward before turning around and giving Cara a wave. Maybe it was her low voice or maybe it was her slight swagger but Cara’s gaydar went off. “This may turn out to be an interesting route...”
      On Sunday morning Cara woke up and decided she really needed a run. She pulled on her jogging shorts, tank top, and sneakers and started with an easy loop through her neighborhood. She headed for her favorite running trails. Baylands Park was one of the reasons why she chose to live in this neighborhood. The morning sun glinted on the marshland and Cara’s muscled legs started pumping. A snowy egret’s legs were half submerged in the marsh as its long bill dove into the water searching for food and an American kestrel flew overhead. As Cara watched it, she ran past a woman walking with her dog.
      “Hey Cara!”
      Cara stopped and looked at who called her. It was Bananarchist. She looked pretty good this morning. Her athletic body no longer was hidden by her shapeless business suit and her short sleeved shirt displayed her muscled upper arms.
      “Hey good morning Bananarchist.”
      Cara rested her hands on her hips and she noticed that Bananarchist looked at her straight in her eyes. They stood fairly close to each other and she felt the heat radiating off Bananarchist’s body.
      “Wow do you run here all the time or do you have a workout program? You look really fit,” Bananarchist said as she lightly squeezed Cara’s arms.
      Cara blushed and pushed a strand of hair behind her ear and looked down and smiled. “I mainly just jog and I rock climb. I don’t lift weights or anything.”
      “Oh my friend JY rock climbs. She’s a really good climber and I’m doing this workout program called P90x partly because I can never surpass her rock climbing skills and her awesome sense of style so I have to beat her at something. I can beat her at arm wrestling and wrestling in general,” she boasted.
      “Oh okay…”
      “It’s really getting me in shape. Check this out.” Bananarchist pulled up the sleeve of her shirt and flexed her triceps. “See this?” she said, pointing to a slight muscle. “I call this Russian ridge and this other one devil's slide.”
      “Oh, neat.”
      “Oh man,” Cara thought, “What is she trying to prove!”
      “Yeah my girlfriend really appreciates that I’m super strong.”
      “You have a girlfriend?”
      “Yeah she lives in New York.”
      “Ah the distance must be hard on you two.”
      “It is but we manage to work it out. Plus how could she give up on all this?” Bananarchist said gesturing at herself.
      “Well I should be going now. See you later!” Cara said sprinting away as fast as she could. She was a little put off by Bananarchist's obvious egotism.
      The beginning of the week passed by normally but on Wednesday Cara was outside loading up her dolly when Bananarchist appeared.
      “Hey Cara how are you doing? Let’s have a strength contest! We should load up this dolly and see who can pull it with one hand the fastest down the street.”
      “I can’t,” Cara said “It’s kind of a liability thing.”
      “Okay,” Bananarchist said a little disappointed. “Wanna arm wrestle instead?”
      “No thanks.”
      “C’mon are you afraid I’m gonna beat you?” she teased playfully jabbing at Cara’s arm.
      Cara brushed her hand aside and Bananarchist jabbed at her a few more times. Cara was getting a little annoyed at this point.
      “Actually I’m gonna go back to work now. See ya.” Cara said coolly. She decided to avoid engaging Bananarchist in conversation in the future.
      It had been a long week at work and Cara headed over to the East Bay to have dinner with some of her friends. They decided to go to a queer dance party in Oakland afterwards called Hella Gay. Cara wasn’t so sure she wanted to go out dancing but after some cajoling she gave in. She decided to wear her patent leather flats tonight and grey skinny jeans with a sleeveless blouse. Her hair she left undone and it cascaded across her shoulders and her long bangs hung in her eyes. When she and her two friends entered the club Cara noticed the abundance of eye candy all around her. After two drinks she was ready to dance. Cara moved her body to the music, feeling the beats deep within her. She raised her arms above her head and swayed. She spotted a cute Asian girl dancing with some friends a few feet away on her right.
      “Hey check her out” she said to her friend nodding in the girl’s direction. “Asian girl at 2 o’clock with the brown knee-high boots and striped dress.”
      “Nice. Cute! Are you gonna go talk to her?”
      “I’m thinking about it…” Cara tried to think of an opening and as she gathered the courage to go up to her she noticed Bananarchist. “Oh shit! I know one of the cute girl’s friends.”
      “Who is she?”
      “She works in an office on my route and I totally don’t want to talk to her. Damn. I hope she didn’t see me…I’m gonna go outside for some air.” Cara carefully maneuvered herself towards the backdoor of the club and noticed that Bananarchist and her cute friend were talking to two white girls.
      “Uh she’s such a creep! She has a girlfriend in New York….” Cara thought. She entered the smoking patio and as she surveyed the scene she noticed an attractive female smoking by herself in a corner. They exchanged glances and smiles and Cara casually walked up to her.
      “Hey,” Cara said smiling, “Mind if I bum a cigarette off of you?”
      “Sure,” she said producing a packet of cigarettes from the pocket of her dark jacket. Cara took one and placed the cigarette between her lips and the mysterious stranger sparked her lighter. Cara leaned in and cupped her hand around the flame and the bottom of her palm brushed the other woman’s fingers. She leaned against the brick wall and took a drag, blowing the smoke in a stream from her pursed lips as her head rested against the wall. She noticed the other woman doing the same thing and admired the curve of her neck as she exhaled.
      The woman turned her head towards her and said, “Hi, my name’s Sheana.”
      “Hi, I’m Cara.” They smoked in silence for a minute both gazing out onto the crowd of people. Cara felt Sheana shift her weight and their shoulders were lightly touching. Sheana’s coat was warm against Cara’s bare arms and her heart started beating a little faster.
      “How’re you doing tonight Cara?”
      “I’m doing just fine right now” Cara said as she looked into Sheana’s dark eyes framed by her bobbed slightly wavy black hair. Sheana ran her finger along Cara’s arm and she shivered.
      “You have Goosebumps. Are you cold? Do you wanna go back inside?”
      “Okay.” Cara followed Sheana back inside the club and upstairs into the mezzanine area. It was dimly lit and as Cara’s eyes adjusted to the darkness she saw that Sheana had found an unoccupied corner of the room and was leaning on one shoulder against the wall, one knee bent and looking expectantly at Cara. Cara crossed over and faced Sheana, also leaning one shoulder against the wall, and looked into Sheana’s face. Sheana leaned forward slowly and gazed into her eyes and Cara took an intake of breath anticipating the touch of Sheana’s lips against her own. Her mouth an inch from Cara’s, she stopped, and Cara held her breath. Sheana said “Hi” and smiled a sly smile. The anticipation was agonizing.
      Sheana suddenly leaned in and kissed Cara, their teeth clinking against each other with the force of the kiss. Cara wrapped one arm around Sheana’s body and the other she held against Sheana’s neck pulling Sheana into her, the curves of their bodies fitting into one another. Sheana glided her left hand up Cara’s leg and around her hips and slid her hand up the back of her top. Cara felt Sheana’s fingers tighten slightly as Sheana pressed her palm into the middle of Cara’s back and held on. Their mouths opened and Cara gasped as Sheana’s tongue entered her mouth. Their tongues wrestled with each other for a moment and Cara pulled away and lightly bit Sheana’s lower lip. She pulled Sheana’s hips forward and pushed Sheana’s against the wall while sliding her knee between her legs which made Sheana gasp and close her eyes. Cara kissed Sheana’s shoulder and slid her lips across her collarbone and ran her lips up Sheana’s neck and to her hairline. Sheana bowed her head and Cara kissed the area behind her neck and felt the hot throbbing of Sheana’s veins against her tongue as she slid her tongue down her neck. Cara felt Sheana’s hips start to move rubbing herself against Cara’s thigh.
      “You are so fucking hot,” Cara whispered into Sheana’s ear.
      Sheana let out a moan and held onto Cara’s hips. She felt the seam of her jeans rubbing against her clit and Cara’s knee rocked with her. Cara’s hand moved underneath her shirt and caressed her stomach. She was happy to discover that Sheana was not wearing a bra and moved to cup her left breast. Two fingers held onto Sheana’s nipple and she brushed Sheana’s nipple with her thumb. Cara nudged her nose into Sheana’s low-cut shirt and found her other nipple with her mouth. She encircled the areola with her tongue in little circles before sucking the nipple into her warm mouth. She softly flicked her tongue across the surface while gently sucking. Sheana looked past Cara’s shoulder and noticed two beautiful women looking at them, their eyes filled with desire. Sheana looked at them and they smiled at her, winking. Sheana felt the first waves of an orgasm building and gritted her teeth as she ran her hand through Cara’s hair and held on. She felt Cara’s teeth lightly bite her nipples and Sheana’s breaths became short and ragged.
      “Oh fuck” she exclaimed as she quaked and felt pleasure filling her body. Her knees became weak and she slumped weakly against Cara who started kissing her on the mouth softly and slowly. Cara held Sheana’s face in her hands and felt the dampness of her hair and gave Sheana a long wet kiss. She looked at Sheana’s content face and said “Let’s get out of here.”
      The two women walked downstairs and Cara gave her friends the I’m-getting-laid-tonight look goodbye. As they walked hand in hand out of the club and out onto the street Cara realized she was walking behind Bananarchist and her friend and overheard part of their conversation. Bananarchist’s friend said, “Bananarchist, you’re such a pussy! Why didn’t you tell her you had a girlfriend?”
      “I know I know I am. I’m just gonna ignore any contact she attempts to make. Maybe I should start wearing a wedding ring or something.”
      “Ha! As if you have to fight off girls trying to pick you up all the time!”
      “Hey I don’t see you picking up chicks, JY!”
      “I got a number tonight didn’t I?”
      Bananarchist and her friend crossed the street and their conversation and laughter became gradually unintelligible. Cara walked with Sheana to her car and they exchanged another kiss before driving off together to the start of a very long night.

      • "Parvati and Aphrodite," by NG

        “Frankly, I was getting tired of Shiva anyway. If he wants four arms, blue skin, and eternal energy, then fuck it, he can have Kali.”

        “Girl, don't take that shit lying down. You didn't spend 200 years doing downward dog in the Aravalis for that man to run off with your worse half.”

        “Well what the fuck am I supposed to do? I've put too much energy into this shit already. I even killed off half of Hyderabad just to show I can be a bad girl too. But nothing. Nothing. They've been in that bedroom for ten years now.”

        “Oh, ten years now. Everyone knows that Tantric yoga is just made up. They're probably stitching embroidery onto cotton blankets for their mothers. While they are acting like ancient ninnies, we're going to get down to business. Revenge plan. My specialty.”

        “Okay, Aphrodite, what is it?”

        And with that, the two goddesses got down to business. Aphrodite reached her long milky fingers into her preferred cypress trunk and pulled out thick parchment paper.

        “Well Parvati, I'm thinking we turn Shiva's dick into a goat.”

        Parvati broke into her trademark laughter – a sound sweeter than the harps playing on Olympus, with an occasional warthog snort every fourth giggle. Her golden body glowed as she rolled and bounced on Aphrodite's smooth clamshell couch.

        Three hours later, Aphrodite stood with eyebrows furrowed (of course, even with the furrowing, her skin retained its pearly sheen.) Parvati's rolling laughs had transformed to stiff consternation. After covering the parchment with lists of their resources, they were stuck on the most painful detail – how to lure Shiva away from Kali long enough to make his member bleat.

        But this time, instead of becoming a weeping monsoon, Parvati skin hardened and radiated. Her once dark eyes were burning white. In Parvati's presence, Aphrodite began to melt a little. But on the inside, she too was on fire.

        The parchment slipped out of Aphrodite's hand. And her hand slipped onto Parvati's lower left hand. The lower left hand melted the comparatively small milky fingers intertwined with it. Aphrodite's tongue slowly grazed her companion's bronzed nipple, her hard teeth biting just outside the quartz-like areola. Parvati burned hotter. Moans escaped.

        Soon, the Greek goddess's ruby lips were just skimming her Indian lover's navel, getting lower and lower. Finally (oh it felt like eternity for Parvati!), her long, moist tongue reached its destination. It wrapped around in a slow licking motion, interspersing it with (“oh yes! yes!”) a strong vacuuming suck. Aphrodite felt a flame rise in her belly – Parvati's upper right arm was entering her, filling her.
        The Hindu deity was molten now, her golden ore combining with Aphrodite's creamy desire. Their heavy breath in unison until that breath became a scream.

        “Harder!” the two screamed. The gold and white violently separated. But then, they came back together. Distinguishing the two, nearly impossible. The illumination from their body reached not just to the ends of Greece, but as far as Alaska, where it shown green and pink. And then with a deep, heaving sigh, it faded.

        As the two lay, arm in arms, Parvati noticed a smooth yellow crescent in a corner. She dreamily reached her lower right arm (the least tired of her limbs) over to the strange object. The object wiggled! Both ladies jumped ever so slightly as they realized what it was. A dancing banana. But wait, the banana was un-peeling itself. Underneath the fleshy yellow peel was a fleshy beige-ish girl, with chestnut nipples, dark shiny hair, and a ginger bush. Like all new parents, the goddesses began to argue.

        “No, she looks like me, look at that shiny black hair.”

        “But what about that ginger bush? All me!”

        But then the girl cocked her head and smiled, slightly crooked. Parvati looked at Aphrodite. Their eyes locked knowingly. The problem would not be to lure Shiva away from Kali. This shiny haired, ginger-bushed girl, her charms already so apparent, would lure Kali away from Shiva. And legions of women thereafter.