Thursday, December 31, 2009

And now for something completely different

So now that I’ve had the little self-pity fest, let me prove that I am like that dog in Up who goes “squirrel!” mid-conversation, and let me tell you a secret. Actually, it’s kind of a two-part secret, so here’s secret, part a)

I have a circle of imaginary friends that are famous people. Ok, maybe you knew that. But I get really excited about famous people who are really cool and good at being people, too. Like Stephen Fry, even if he does come to New York at inconvenient times. Because he is smart and funny and nice too, and because he tries so hard. Or like Whil Wheaton, who seems really hell-bent on being a decent human being with a heart and lots of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is the most loveable trait in anyone. Or even Zachary Quinto, for the way he sings the Fraggle Rock song and how he got the part of Spock.


Secret, part b)

I am scared of famous people. No matter how much any given person is my imaginary friend, I will probably have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the booksigning stand. Really. I’m sorry. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you, I do, honestly I do, but what would I say? Partly I hate to bother people, so I would be very unlikely to approach anyone famous just being out and about, in fact I have been known to ignore the hell out of famous people, but the truth is that even when the famous person is clearly there for display purposes, I don’t do very well.

Case in point: it is a few years ago, and I’ve just seen a positively spectacular performance of The Master and Margarita. With Sam West. I am standing outside with a couple of friends, and we walk past Samivel, engaged in polite conversation with a little old lady. One of my friends, with a keen understanding of my fascination with Sam West, says “shall I dispose of the old bag so you can ask Sam West to elope with you?” (Ross, if you’re listening, and you’re almost certainly not, that was awesome). I could have. Instead I shush said friend, and make everyone walk on. What would I say to Sam West, after all?

I know, I should follow Stephen Fry’s advice: don’t worry about being original, and keep it to the point. For example “Hi. It’s great to meet you in person. You are a wonderful actor and I just wanted to thank you for an inspiring performance.”


“Sam, elope with me. Please.”

Of course next time, I still won’t say anything, even in spite of Stephen Fry. You see, I know because there actually is a next time: years later I walk into the theatre right behind Sam West. I try to point him out to the Spouse (who blithely misses the whole moment) but do not say anything, nor even make so much as eye contact with the Slurpee-drinking celebrity. Sigh.

Celebrity conversation will never be mine. Well, not unless said Spouse, blissfully free of such inhibitions, accidentally or purposely accosts the Famous Person and strikes up a perfectly interesting conversation as I desperately struggle to run away. No wonder my favourite heroes are all dead.

All out

In so many ways this has been a good year, a year of some progress, some good things, some good breaks, some good friends. If it doesn’t feel like it, that is because these last few months are like a vast pool of helplessness. It is the hardest thing, not being able to do anything, not being able to change anything. Tomorrow is the last day of the year and I can’t find any optimism for it, I’m just too scared right now, too frustrated, too wary of false promises. A few of the people closest to me right now are struggling. So I whip out my most supportive face, do what I can, and brace for impact. That wouldn’t be so bad, except that there is nothing I can do, and all I can do is watch all this warp their lives, and mine too.

I can’t write. You’ve seen it – I’m barely here, absentminded&bodied. Because what can I say? The story’s not mine, and all the rest seems so irrelevant. Yet I think it would help to write, to talk (though maybe not here, this being a public place; and not necessarily about the problems). I talk some, I suppose. I’ve had some really great support (you find it in the strangest places). It’s been such a crazy time; it reminds me of the Bad Time in Hungary when I was going from one hospital to the next and no one explained anything, because it reminds me of a person’s capability to live by the Kafka-esque rules of crises. It also reminds me that the hardest part is not the crisis, but the bit that comes after it.

So here’s my plan for tomorrow: I will lock myself in, get some good food (sushi&pizza&Indian!) and some hot comforting thing (hot chocolate?) and a cold comforting thing (champagne!) and I will watch In the Bleak Midwinter. Then I’ll watch The Fast Show and Star Trek TNG. Then The Muppets Christmas Carol. And then I’m watching In the Bleak Midwinter again. And to hell with the stupid celebration.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Yes, my dears, my darlings, you are of course right – there has been not so much as a Christmas wish out of me, though they have perfectly good interwebs in the homeland where I spent the last ten days. Merry Christmas? I’m sorry I was too busy eating and boozing to tell you so at the time. I ate so much in fact that not only am I larger than I was before I left, but I am also hungry all the time. And I have chocolate on my desk; in theory for my colleagues, but it’s quiet at work, so it’s hard to keep my paws from the delicious, delicious Belgian chocolate.

So what entertainment do I bring you today? Well, I am all boringness my darlings. I am happy just to be home, and curled up on a nearby couch with the Fast Show or Star Trek TNG (note to self: watch Whil Wheaton in The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary of Big Bang Theory; also, it is good to come home to three new episodes of Radio Free Burrito!)

Anyway, how did I get lost in the geek subcontinent? I am not all that good with computers, I don’t like computer games, I suck at science (though I like it!) and I am not a hardcore Trekkie. True, I hang out with technology a fair amount. True, I have seen the new Star Trek movie twelve times and yes, I have seen most of Star Trek TNG and original series. Yes, I love Patrick Stewart. But no, I am not quite there. And I like Harry Potter, and that is altogether the wrong subculture. Hell, I’ve even read Twilight – all of it – and sort of enjoyed it. Yes, I make no apology. Yes, the writing is…welll, let’s just leave it alone. Anyway, hello geek subcontinent, thanks for showing me around.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Well, of all the…

Allow the TDEC to digress for a moment, if you please.

When the TDEC was just a little girl, she secretly loved Jason Donovan. She was a sentimental little nerd, she was. Jason Donovan and his golden hair just captured her unwavering attention (apart from such times as it was captured by Patrick Swayze in North and South).

Time flies, the TDEC moved on to other embarrassing musical loves (Take That, anyone?) and eventually learned about and watched the glorious wonder that is Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. And she loved it. What is not to love about ABBA, transvestites and Australia all in one movie?

Now, years later, the TDEC finds out that somewhere in London Jason Donovan is playing Mitzi in a stage adaptation of the aforementioned Queen of the Desert. Many are the times when the TDEC has wished – oh how she wished! – that she could be in London to see Patrick Stewart/Sam West perform in such or such a play. My friends, all this was nothing. The TDEC would give her last iPod to be able to see her wholesome pre-teen idol all dolled up. Really, she would. Yet it is more than that – it makes her happy to think of it, and somewhere in the back of her mind, a little voice whispers “What a glorious sequel to a sentimental career…”

A list

So I was thinking of this year, and all that happened in it, and decided that you could probably summarise it very adequately by making a list of my obsessions/fascinations/passing fads. Here they are, in no particular order. Or are they?

- Snape (*hums to the tune of The Mysterious Ticking noise* Snape, Snape, Severus Snape)

- House (Robert Sean Leonard. Actual acting. Need I say more?)

- Twilight (Bad taste can be wonderful!)

- Dr. Who (because it’s good)

- James Mason (as Brutus, because he’s sexy; as Humbert Humbert, because he has perfect pitch in that impossible role; and for being able to carry off both)

- The new Star Trek movie (entirely self-explanatory)

- Whil Wheaton (because he is interesting and also normal, and geeky. And funny. Like Stephen Fry if he had been cast as a child prodigy and was not gay. Well, maybe this is not a good comparison)

After all, what is life without a little distraction…

This time last year

You know, last year, I wrote a lot more. This time, last year, I was just relaxing after all the election stuff and hoping that 2009 would be less insane. Ah, no dice. Instead this has been the year of insane levels of stress, stressful levels of insanity, and endless posts I didn’t finish because frankly, they were all about problems and those just aren’t all that exciting. Speaking of which, it has also been an exciting year of sorts. You know, I planned a big work event for the first time, and that was pretty cool. We went on that cruise, and found out all about the high life. It has also been the year where I tried, yet again, to be Social, and Responsible. Ah, very funny, and quite a lot of work. Fun? Er, sometimes. Maybe? TDEC finds herself in danger of being a pillar of society, something for which she is genetically unfit, and far too fidgety. Halp?

The highs are high and the lows low this year, and all of it has been a completely unreasonably stressful. Well, except the cruise. That was relaxing. If my sister weren’t being more baby-happy this spring I would do another cruise even if we have no available funds. Speaking of which, that is the other feature of this already fully loaded year – the swift depletion of carefully accrued money. Easy come, easy go? Can I get that first part next year then? Because I am due for it. Seriously, I am.

And if you were wondering why I have been alternating between being enigmatic and absent these last months, that is because the last few months have been very thoroughly unpleasant, and were it not for Whil Wheaton, and some very nice people keeping me in place, I might have just gone into hiding indefinitely. So, British Airways, get your act together already. I will have NO strikes on my vacation. And thanks to the nice people. And to Whil Wheaton. No thanks to Stephen Fry for coming to NEW YORK on a MONDAY. Honestly. No more cookies for him.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Things one must share

I love the Muppets. I love the carol of the bells. And then there is this. Glory.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Some days you just want to speak in expletives and inaudible noises

Well. The best thing is to pretend that none of this is happening. Because if you admitted to it, then you'd have to explain, or find some way to make it entertaining or interesting. Instead, let's assume that everything is where you left it, and you are momentarily obsessed with that Modest Mouse song.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


It's Sunday morning and I am sitting here far too early (can't sleep) with a cup of coffee. The cup of coffee in question is freshly ground and made Kona coffee, $24.99 per measly little pack, and the best proof in this house that I am both a snob and a yuppie. This is unfortunate, since I am also quite poor.

There is something ludicrous about saying that you're poor as you whip out the credit card to buy more Christmas presents, as you sit in your well-situated and comfortably equipped apartment having just paid rent and sipping your expensive coffee. It is even more preposterous as I try (with very mixed results) to raise money to help torture survivors get the care and help they need. There is such a discrepancy between my reluctant fundraising and their predicament. You know, there is something both easier and harder about raising money for people whom you can look in the eye. On the one hand, I see, without the shadow of a doubt, that it matters. That it brightens peoples dark, dark lives. On the other hand, it is much harder to tell a sentimental story to win folks over for your cause; the story is not mine, and to make it sentimental and uplifting deprives it of some of its real hard edges. It's America, people tell me, where you don't want to remind people of unpleasant things when you want their money.

I guess.

It also deprives me of some of my excuses, which is how I get to be fundraising in the first place - I hate fundraising, did I mention that? But when you see it up close, you either do what you can or walk away.

Here's what I don't tell people when I ask for their money: part of why I do this is because these folks I try to help pay, the psychologists and social workers, the whole organisation, they are a bright spot in my life too, proof that there are warm-hearted people who work in a spirit of co-operation, and more importantly, that a hug and some compassion will go a long way toward better things.

But now I feel guilty when I buy a $22 best-t-shirt-of-all-times for the Spouse. Because I could be putting it to better use. Guilt is a bad motivation though, and survivors like fun too. Fun, also when you find it unexpectedly on a Friday night in the form of a Jonathan Coulton concert and you realise that not only are you a yuppie and a snob, you are also a geek. Thanks, Whil Wheaton. Maybe I should donate concert tickets instead.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Glorious geeks

You know, that’s the second time I’ve dreamed about Stephen Fry in the last few weeks. It’s not that I mind dreaming about hanging out with him, he is after all my imaginary best friend, but I am beginning to wonder if there is a deeper psychological meaning to this. What is the signified here?

On the subject of geeks I love in the most platonic of ways, one of my esteemed colleagues got me into following Wil Wheaton on Twitter (in my head it will now forever be Whil Wheaton, like in Not all dogs go to heaven, the best episode of Family Guy of all time, at least the Star Trek bit). Anyhoo, so I was following Whil Wheaton in an entirely legal, non-stalker sense, and it sent me to this post. And I know that I shouldn’t need this kind of validation, but the post made me happy in a number of ways. First of all, I find the whole thing deeply endearing, and Whil Wheaton may reconcile me with the fact that Wesley Crusher always annoyed the hell out of me. Secondly, it makes me feel better about being both really interested in science and really bad at math. Thirdly, it reminds me that I am not the only person for whom popular science books are like a light switch in a very dark place.

Thanks man.

And as for Stephen Fry, I think it just means I need a hug.