Bad Ideas

Following are some of my business plans, none of which will ever come to fruition. However, when you do see them in play, know that you heard it here first. Read. Whatever.

1) Mint-flavored ruphies Because no one says no to a mint. (Circa 1995)

2) The ruphie-Viagra cocktail, for the unwilling male. (Circa 1996 and subsequently mentioned in a Valentine’s Day list)

3) The Grassy Knoll Shooting Range. Too soon? (Circa 1999)

4) A motorcycle club called “The Cops”.

5) A restaurant called “Whatever You Want,” for perpetually indecisive dining couples.

6) A bar called “The Office”, so you can stay late at the office.

Valentine’s Day 2014

So, as many of you know, for many (10) years, I wrote a list of dating tips, which I published on Valentine’s Day. I got older (inevitable, or better than the alternative), got (marginally) wiser, and thus began running out of source material. Thank goodness. One hopes ones mistakes get less interesting with age. Anyway. I made a book; it’s here:

And, frankly… it’s awesome.  <–subjective

I have one item this year, and it’s…
The thing you’re trying to explain away about your partner now will be the reason you break up later. Or the reason you should. Seriously, they’re called red flags for a reason.

And, all years:

The end result? Valentine’s Day became a holiday I loved, and to which I looked forward and, if some of you are to be believed, provided a reason to look forward to a generally obnoxious, NOXIOUS, ridiculous holiday. So… Thank you. 

And, if you’re new here… uhm. Hi. More about me than you ever wanted to know.

What I Wouldn’t Have

Occasionally, as it did today, it will take me by surprise. I will be going about my business, insomnia, the works, and suddenly it will be 13 August, or 8 October.

My mother would have been 72 today.

You can never know the path your life would take, or the flaps of which butterfly wings led you to where you are. Here’s my pass.

For myriad reasons and random paths, the following are probably true. If you knew me then, and know me now, these won’t surprise you.

If my mother hadn’t died over 15 years ago I would not:

Be with Luke.
Have the depth and breadth of friendship that I have with Ben.
Have the depth and breadth of friendship that I have with David.
Have the incredible, unexpected, fantastic friendship I have with Ellinor.
Have the poignant, striking memories of my then-nascent, beautiful friendships with Karyn, Dan, and Kate.
Sing with a circus troupe.
Have Death Wish.

Have a near-crippling fear of losing the people I love.
Have a near-crippling fear of getting on a plane, or the people I love getting on a plane.
Have worked my ass off for this career that is becoming downright amazing.
Have worked with Coppola.
Be so incredibly comfortable with every facet of my eccentric, artistic, creative, oddly-thought-patterned self.
Have started taking aerials at 33.
Only ever be in competition with myself.
Sing at every moment, every chance, bring it into every aspect of my world.
Appreciate each of the people in my world to the point of bar-drunk “I love you’s” while sober.
Be wide open to the next journey.

Thank you all for being here; whether you love, or hate (both), or are annoyed by, or cherish, or all of the above, me. And, Mom, thank you for the gifts you gave me; then, and now.


P.S.A. – A woman’s reaction to rape (trigger alert)

I’m not going to apologize for the nature of this post, or for making anyone uncomfortable. I’m sorry if you have lived through these experiences and find yourself triggered; you don’t need this information, so you may want to stop now.

A few weeks ago, I was working out with my (dear friend and) trapeze instructor, who wanted to see if a position would work and suggested trying it out on the ground first. He made a lewd joke that, had we been standing, would have been just fine. If you know me at all, you know I’m a walking politically incorrect nightmare. This is someone I’ve known for over 10 years, who doesn’t swing my way, with whom I am incredibly comfortable and whom I trust implicitly. But I was in a vulnerable position and said “Hang on, I need to get up, I’m feeling triggered.” He immediately jumped back and apologized, saying “I almost just got kicked in the nuts, didn’t I?” to which I laughed quietly and then said…

“Actually, you know what’s sad? That’s not my instinct.” And, because he is a dear friend, I said, “The instinct is to just shut down. To not fight. Because you know that if you struggle, you’re going to get hurt and probably get raped anyway, so you just shut down and wait for it to be over.” He was surprised, and sad. And, because he was surprised, I knew I would have to write about it. Because if he’s surprised, how many other people don’t know this? It seems every court, everyone who hasn’t been raped, everyone in a position of power when a rape survivor comes in and asks for help and asks why there aren’t signs of a struggle, doesn’t know this.

Maybe this will help someone; just reading this. Maybe not reading it in the context of a court document will not put people on the defensive and they’ll be able to hear it. Maybe it’ll explain why, at night, I walk down the middle of the street instead of on the sidewalk where it is easier to grab someone into a doorway, why I spit when I realize I’ve attracted unwanted male attention. Because, though I am incredibly strong, and a fighter, I know the odds are that, put in an inescapable rape situation rather than a sheer fighting situation, the shut-down survival instinct would likely kick in. And I’m a 5’9″ woman who can bench-press her own weight. Quick, ask my shrink why I began lifting weights in the first place, over 20 years ago. ;) The goal is to not get into that situation in the first place, and walking down the street alone at night is apparently “risky behavior”.

It is important that you know this, if you didn’t already. Sorry it lacks my usual humor; I got nothin’.

Valentine’s Day List 2013

Those of you who have been coming here for 11 (ELEVEN!) years, thank you. This year is a bit of a sea change. Luke and I have been together since List the Fourth and, while I could continue to hash material from my 20′s forever, I am happy, and joyous, and less cynical than in years past, in large part due to this incredible relationship. So, this year, I offer just a few short words on the subject. You see, while Luke and I have been together for much less time than many of the couples we know, we are much happier than … a lot of couples, regardless of how long they’ve been together. Because I hope to be with him for much, much longer, just a few things…

1) Healthy relationships aren’t built on common interests. When you go through the death of a parent or the birth of a child or anything else of significance, it won’t matter if you both listen to the Misfits and hate Uggs. The mutual interests that are built together are the best ones, anyway.

2) Parameters are established through word and through action. After long enough, actions cancel out words. Any unexpected change in parameters without talking with your partner is a breach.

3) “Be the type of man whom you want your daughters (or future daughters) to marry.”
-Pater James Moore

4) Your dating dealbreakers will become the things that you find adorable about your life partner.

5) Never stop riding motorcycles together. Never stop doing the glorious, ridiculous, bonding things that drew you to each other in the first place.

For previous years, go here.

To purchase last year’s book of all ten lists, go here.

Edwardian Ball – A First Look (in a long, long time)

Forgive my ElderGoth leanings – I can’t help it. I’m well into my 30′s, I remember dimly and fondly the nascent days of the goth scene in San Francisco (when we were so few that there was one scene, the goth-industrial scene, where swirlers and stompers shared a dance floor with the exception of the rare club with two rooms, where the swirlers swirled and the stompers stomped and only met at the end of the night when it was time to say “Nice Boots” and the swirly girls went home with the stompy boys and acted surprised when there was drama, before we were factioned and then crammed back together again nearly in sync with Marilyn Manson’s popularity) and, while I do occasionally visit it, I consider myself a graduate, or drop-out; I kept many of the leanings but won’t commit the time and energy to anything other than being 100% of myself these days… and my Self is not 100% goth, so staying up late to go to a club that doesn’t represent 100% of me for a guaranteed lack of sleep and suffering the next day… well, it doesn’t happen so much anymore. I like to visit, but it’s not where I live.

Nearly a decade after my nascent days and at the beginning of my waning days was the inception of an event called the Edward Gorey Ball. It was an homage to the brilliant man who was one of many artists (like Poe and Bowie) to show us a grown-up version of what we could be – dark, artistic, eccentric and lovely, appreciated by those not entrenched in the aesthetic but still intrigued by it. The early days of the ball were housed in a favorite dive bar, the Cat Club. The Cat Club features a front room with a long bar and a small dance floor, a tiny hallway, and a back room with a smaller bar and a larger dance floor, a strange, pervasive smell and bathrooms that’ll make you want to curtail your liquid intake. I did, in fact, work security at the Cat Club for a brief period of time. It’s where I learned I wasn’t willing to take a punch for money. The Edward Gorey Ball was a once-a-year event. A place for the swirlier of the dark side to assemble, we wore our most victorian garb (a lot of velvet, a lot of Funhouse and Shrine, the occasional hard-earned Dark Garden) and watched the visual spectacle while enjoying the lovely strains of Rosin Coven, the group producing the event and simultaneously showing the world what it could eventually become.

I greatly enjoyed my time there. But, as sometimes happens (if we’re lucky), it got crowded. And every bone in my socially-anxious body railed against being crammed into a dive bar and not having the room to dance, to step back and watch, to enjoy without someone slamming into me and spilling their drink down my carefully crafted outfit. At the same time, I had begun focusing more heavily on my singing career and was not going to events where I was not Creating Something. So I didn’t attend as the event grew in number and scope, as it moved to the Great American Music Hall. I didn’t witness the evolution.

Focusing on one’s art can yield some pretty incredible things. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll be asked to participate in things that you would attend anyway. And so it happened that, as the Edward Gorey Ball changed names to the Edwardian Ball (something about Gorey (RIP) not being dead long enough to allow free use of his name) and added live performances, as I cultivated my own particular brand of opera and the Dark Side, classical music combined with the harder edge of the 21st century, opera over a beat performed while climbing a rope and doing things on a trapeze, I was asked to sing at the Ball. And, as sometimes happens when one focuses on one’s art, one doesn’t have time to perform all of the places one wants to perform. So, for several years, I was invited to participate in the Ball. For several years, I was honored, and overwhelmed, and humbled, and heartbroken to have to say no, as I was already committed elsewhere. We should all have such problems when it comes to sharing our art.

I watched as my friends prepared, talked about their costumes and plans. I watched as other friends prepared performances, interactive gegaws. I eagerly searched images online immediately following the event, boggling as it eventually moved to the Regency Center, a stunning setting that even the most ambitious of event producers would be hard-pressed to fill.

2012 occurred, and it was a brutal, rough, unforgiving year. But it was also a year that brought to the fore dreams and passions, and the incredible brevity of the time in which we have to act on them. And, before the end of the year, before I said yes to another gig, I contacted a friend and co-producer of the event, and I said… WILL YOU STILL HAVE ME?? And, to my utter joy, he said yes.

And so it happened that, on Saturday evening, I returned to the Edwardian Ball for the first time since it was at the Cat Club. I returned to create which, if you haven’t tried it, you should – it’s the ultimate way to participate in anything, let alone to return to something you’ve always admired and loved. I returned to see where my fellow ElderGoths of all stripes had ended up. What I found was amazing.

ElderGoths were but a small faction. Everyone creating, or supporting the creativity of others. Everyone making, unique, strong, amazing; the best version of themselves. Not the ugly shock-value of Marilyn Manson goth. Not the harsh white-face-black-lipstick of Goth 101. No, this is something different. This is a grown-up, lovely, thoughtful aesthetic. It’s creative, intelligent, stunning visuals and music. It’s a wonderland of spectacle, of color, of dream and reality, of real job and art, of classical and modern, of dance and music and craft and design and performance and gadgetry. In the audience and among the performers were friends from High School, the SF Conservatory of Music, SF Renaissance Voices, Lyric Theatre, Velocity Circus, Adobe (my DayJob), Burning Man – Thunderdome, Administration, DPW, Rock Opera, Temple Crew, ALL of my Burning Man worlds, ancient Death Guilders… everyone. HERE was the culmination. HERE was where my brilliant, eccentric, talented weirdo cohorts were convening. HERE was their New Year’s, their Christmas, their Easter. There was no faction missing, except maybe “motorcycling” but, to be fair, that spans all those categories. Here, swirling, dancing, celebrating, CREATING, they all were, all 100% of me, filling and SELLING OUT this gorgeous entire building in the heart of the city by the bay. Here was an event to which I could point anyone who ever said “What ARE you?” and say “I am this. This doesn’t define me, but this is a culmination of the efforts of people like me.” And, finally, on Saturday… I could truly be counted among them.

Saturday evening meant that I had done things right. Not just practicing and honing my craft, but following my heart and my passion. My singing, my tech nerdery, my aesthetic, my art, my creativity, my passion, creating a blend of classical and modern that was palatable for people of almost all stripes… here was a living, breathing, celebrating representation of what I had dreamed the world could be when I was a young aspiring opera singer being dragged to my first goth club at the age of 17 by my best friend (Through the Looking Glass at Thunder Bay, for those keeping track at home).

Thank you, Justin, and Mike, and the vast numbers of people who have kept this alive and breathing and thriving and moving through time and space. Thank you from, literally, every aspect of my being.