Monday, June 15, 2009


Our troupe is comprised of people with diverse personalities, so social fit and harmony is of equal importance to how good a drag king they are.

Last night I received a concerned, urgent phone call from Whitney, one of my kings, asking if anything had happened to Emily, as she had not been heard from in several days. As Emily is quite the social butterfly, I found this out of character. I took a few minutes and attempted to contact her to no avail. Whitney called again; she was told via text (from Emily’s cousin in Houma) that Emily had been found dead in her Harvey home earlier that morning, an apparent suicide. The note, her cousin said, stated that she did not want a service. No word was given as to Emily’s two young children, only that her mother was understandably distraught. I calmed Whitney down and asked her not to let anyone know just yet. No less than 5 minutes later, I received at least 8 phone calls from other kings, hysterical at the news. I assured each one that I was looking into the matter; something didn’t feel right.

With my girlfriend, Ked, we drove to the Westbank and picked up her sobbing best friend, Alex, who goes by Shane Cockring when she performs with us. Alex had received the news, and was devastated. We drove towards Emily’s house to get answers, and Alex got a text from Ms. Becky, Emily’s mother. The text asked if Alex was alone; we pulled over and let Alex be alone. She responded that, yes, she was alone. A call came through Alex’s phone. It was Emily.

Emily intended to let everyone believe she was dead except Alex, as she intends to move in two weeks to a new state and wished to hurt her ex-girlfriend with news of her death. Her mother and cousin were in on the scheme. I immediately let everyone know that this was a hoax; news of her suicide had spread like wildfire. She obviously forgot that we live in America, where everyone can be traced, and that she is part of the lesbian community…our people are either in the service industry or law enforcement officers. We would have known within 24 hours that it was a lie, even if she had not told Alex.

Needless to say, she is no longer with our troupe.

These bitches is crazy.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mmm...unexplained bacon...

I'm on day 3 of South Beach. I did the diet program once before back in November, and ended up losing 45 pounds, which I've kept off with little effort. I started South Beach at 270 lbs, and while's I'm tall for a woman (5'9), that's too much weight for my frame to carry. I found myself, at 29, the heaviest I had ever been, the unhappiest I had been in a long, long time, and something had to give.

My mother and sister had experimented with South Beach, so after reading up a little online, I started working myself up to takes some real preparation when you lead the life I do. It's a 3-Phase diet that focuses on lean proteins, certain vegetables and extremely low carbohydrate intake. This means no fruit, no bread, no carb-rich vegetables, no alchohol, no sugar, at least for Phase One which lasts two weeks. For me, this sounded like a true challenge, as I never cook at home. For several reasons, I'm seldom found at my apartment during traditional meal times, so I end up eating out for just about every meal. That means a lot of cheap, fatty, greasy fast food or slightly more expensive restaurant tabs for better (sometimes?) food. Ideally, I should be baking chicken and turkey breasts, grilling steaks, hand making salads of romaine lettuce, boiled eggs and turkey bacon. Well, as my Honda Civic didn't come with a factory installed oven, though it feels that way in mid-August in New Orleans, and boiled eggs feel like eyeballs in my mouth (I have SID, or at least my doctor thinks I do), that wouldn't work. I know myself; I knew that I would not alter my busy lifestyle in such a severe way to accommodate a diet. I'd accommodate the diet to suit me.

No doubt, I cooked a couple of times, but I lost 45 pounds with very little excercise and not eating in my or anyone else's kitchen. My staples? Low carb choices like Wendy's chili, cheesburgers with no bun (and little to no ketchup), grilled chicken sandwiches (same thing: no bun, no ketchup) made any fast food restaurant accessible. At regular restaurants, it was just as easy: salads with proteins and light italian dressing or vinaigrette (no root veggies, like carrots, which are high in carbs), and dishes like salmon teriyaki with sauce only on the side (toss's full of sugar) and edamame instead of rice. I did this strict Phase One for three weeks before beginning Phase Two. I felt like a million bucks.

The biggie: no more regular soda. Diet drinks or water only. And if I wanted an alchoholic beverage after Phase One, no beer. Crown Royal and diet Coke became my carb-free drink of choice.

What worked for me? How adaptable the diet is to any lifestyle. Also, your body only wants to eat so much protein in one sitting; it's dense and filling. My cholesterol dropped along with the pounds...I thank the lean proteins and veggies for that. The diet also encourages snacking (yay, cashews) and eating til you are satisfied. will be "satisfied" long before you finish that 2 lbs of bacon in front of you.

What didn't work for me? I had to start really watching my salt intake. Restaurants using not-so-fresh meats and vegetables tend to use salt to compensate for the lack of natural flavor. Snacks like nuts usually come salted, and chicken-broth soups contains tons of sodium more often than not. Drink more water to try to compensate, and ask the restaurant for low sodium options or preparation.

I've 60 lbs or so that I'd like to lose until I'm where I should be. I'm at 225 nowadays; well, 224 since I started on Monday. 59 to go.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Beginning

I don't think I've ever felt a strong call to do something particular with my life. I've had several hobbies that went from obsession to mild interest, that would have made fine career options if I possessed the mathematical aptitude...mineralogy (I still love rocks), meteorology (I still love weather), volcanology (I still love volcanoes) among them. Alas, though I get a weird thrill at the prospect of doing basic math, I don't have a head for numbers. I failed geometry...twice. I don't think I even passed Algebra II before I quit high school after my junior year ended.

a + 9 = 16
a + 9 - 9 = 16 - 9
a = 7

That's about the extent of my mathematical skill. It's more than enough to get me by in the world, though, when my job consists of solid, basic math. It's not enough, however, to foster a desire to devote thousands of hours to fruitless study of calculus just so I can try to forecast when a volcano will wipe out a village of 200 in Africa. Those people deserve a better class of volcanologist. :)

No, if I have a calling, it's to write. I love the English language, and despite myself, I have a love of writing. I've developed a concept for my first book, joined a writer's group and intend to write a short blog every day to start developing some discipline and comfort with writing. Blogs will be short, just enough to get me started.

I'm also going to revisit some old stuff I've written on previous blogs.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

You've Got...Hostility

Email has been around since 1965, when it's alleged that MIT created it as a way for time sharing mainframe users to communicate with each other. It didn't really get big, though, until the PC/Internet revolution of the 1980s when personal computers were made affordable and internet service providers were born, allowing non-academic civilians access to the world wide web. AOL's comically mechanical catch-phrase "You've Got Mail" heralded the beginning of email's reign as the communication of choice among the middle and upper class both at home and at work.

Like every human invention before it, email not only solved problems, but created new ones. On one hand, you could instantly communicate with someone anywhere in the world with just the click of a button...think Morse Code without the lengthy study on how to both speak and understand what you were trying to communicate. On the other hand, you could instantly communicate with someone...anywhere in the world...with just the click of a button. People suddenly found themselves drafting responses to sometimes emotionally charged issues, like nuclear weapons or what kind of potatoes to have with meatloaf that night.

Email, and even IMs, have always reminded me of the illusion of safety and invincibility we have in our cars while we minute, someone is standing politely in line in front of you at Target, buying Vitamin Water and underwear. The next minute, that same polite stranger is honking his horn furiously and flipping off strangers because they sat at the stop light 2.4 seconds after it turned green. Why? What happens in people's minds when we seal ourselves in a glass and plastic cage? It transforms otherwise courteous, civic-minded people into profanity-laced toddlers. The answer is simple,'s the societal disconnect. We're primates, after all, and most of our behavior is driven by our society and desire to be accepted. We don't have other humans standing in close proximity to us, threatening judgement and rejection; we view the other cars as just They are just machines operated by nameless, faceless strangers who somehow cannot drive as well as we can, who don't have anywhere to be that is more important than our own destination, and can never make that turn into oncoming traffic as quickly as we could have.

Email is a lot like that; we don't feel we're writing a human being so much as an email address. It's easy to hide behind a screen and say things that we'd never dare say to someone's face. For example, if a co-worker who always seemed to lose paperwork stopped by my desk and asked me to give her a copy of something I had already turned into her two weeks ago, I'd say something like "Oh, I thought I got that to you. I can make you a copy, though; one sec." I'd be a little irritated that her disorganization was interrupting my day, but I'd make the copy and move on. If she shot me an email, though, something would happen in my animal brain...I'd go for the jugular. I'd draft a snarky but professional response, citing her repeated failure to keep track of what I gave her, mentioning what a hassle and disruption it was to make copies over and over again, and I'd copy her supervisor on it. What's more? I'm not alone. That email would set off a flurry of similar responses, wasting time and energy (professional and emotional) that would yield little more than a silent, tense ride in the elevator the next morning when my co-worker and I ran into each other. Why not just confront her in person, instead of firing off emails? Because it's easier to attack a faceless email address than a person who offers you candy as you sit at their desk.

I am guilty of this; I freely admit it. I dehumanize other drivers, co-workers, even my drag kings when they send me text messages or notes on MySpace or Facebook. I answer abruptly, distantly, instead of observing the patience and courtesy I'd typically extend them if we were in person. Sometimes, it's because I'm having a bad day; other times, though, it's just because I see a machine, and not their actual faces, asking me for the 45th time when we'll have a new website up. I do try, though, to remember that while it may seem easy and satisfying to dehumanize people while in my car, via text message or through email...they are still living, breathing people who will associate my rudeness with me, not with my email address or Honda.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Up...or down?

WARNING: This entry contains spoilers for the film "Up". If you haven't seen it, and intend to, please wait to read this until after you've seen it.


My mother is not a woman who tolerates sad endings. An ardent fan of comedies with sly, accessible humor and trashy romance novels in which a man with rippling triceps hoists the heroine onto his Victorian steed for an evening of wine and roses, she doesn't enjoy pain or loss in her recreational time. Upon seeing City of Angels in 1998, which was advertised as nearly a romantic comedy but ended up being a devastatingly sad movie, my mother got up after the closing credits, wiping tears and non-waterproof mascara from her eyes, and sang derisively..."That's entertainment." When ER would kill a child or other endearing character off, as hospital dramas sometimes have to for the sake of plot, she'd get indignant, even angry with the writers for their gall. Even worse, if one of her tried and true comedic favorites would take a sad turn in their storyline, she viewed this as the ultimate betrayal; she looked to these types of shows as an escape from the trials and tribulations of her everyday life, to find her place in the chorus of pre-recorded laughter of sitcoms in the 80s and 90s. Perhaps in response to the unpredictable nature of these obviously fictitious shows, she has taken a remarkable fancy to reality TV...she finds solace in Survior, The Amazing Race and The Biggest Loser, where the worst thing that can happen to the participants of the show is that they don't lose as much weight as they would have liked before being sent home. Likewise, she is completely intolerant of scary or gory movies. "Life is scary enough, thankyouverymuch".

I, on the other hand, enjoy being moved across the emotional spectrum by the books, films, shows and music I choose to indulge in. Requiem for a Dream is one of my favorite films, though admittedly I don't watch it often because it induces suicidal bouts of ice cream eating and depression. I'm a fan of tragedies, an admirer of horror, a student of the heartbreaking realities of life and the people who live it. I'd always prefer to laugh, of course, but life isn't always funny and my entertainment preferences reflect that appreciation of reality.

My girlfriend, RW (RedWolf), and I went to see the new Pixar film Up Monday night. A delighted, chatty crowd of college students off for the summer crowded into the aged Prytania theater to see it with us, donning comedically big 3-D glasses and gobbling down popcorn like the government had just declared it an illicit substance. The raucous crowd commented loudly during the previews, cheering for the Harry Potter trailer and reacting audibly to the Pixar short, Partly Cloudy, that preceded the film. Within the first 10 minutes of Up, however, there wasn't a dry eye in the house, and the young crowd was stone silent for the remainder of the film, save for laughter at appropriate times.

Up is a powerful film, a sad film, with a tried and true message that life is what happens while we are planning, that sometimes the real adventure happens everyday, not when you go to great lengths and expense to artificially create one. It tells the story of an elderly widower named Carl Frederickson who never managed to take the adventure he and his wife wanted, and his pursuit of that endeavor after her death. It's lush and colorful, and took full advantage of every 3-D trick the wizards at Disney and Pixar could employ. It's laugh-out-loud funny, by all accounts, but also heartbreaking at turns. I was haunted throughout the entire film by the opening sequence, which features a 2-minute segment exploring the couple's lives together (where their attempts at "adventure" and even parenting never comes to fruition) and the wife's subsequent death. It's an opening filled with regret and loss, pain and resignation, which moved even my stoic, social working girlfriend to unabashed tears. That sort of plotline accomplished what the writers wanted...the audience cares about Carl's adventure and understands his motivation, but my reaction, and I believe the rest of the audience's reaction, was not one of pride and wonder, but sadness and sympathy. We felt empathy for a character who has suffered a devastating loss and is in the throes of unmitigated grief. Carl talks to her as if she's there, even in front of other characters in the film, and dives for her portrait when the flying house gets caught in a fierce storm instead of his young companion, Russell, who clearly needs looking after. These are the desperate actions of someone who needs more than this adventure to truly heal, to go on with his life without achingly missing his beloved and deceased partner at every turn. The ending, for me, was little comfort. Carl becomes a father figure to the single-parented and neglected Russell, and master of the talking dog, Dug. While I have never lost a spouse, I have suffered the loss of loved ones and was left with the familiar taste of devastation in my mouth after this movie.

Even after the film had ended, and RW and I got to her car, my hardened girlfriend was crying. I thought the lingering sadness I was still feeling was only my own distorted reaction to a harmless, good film; that perhaps I had forgotten to take my anti-depressants or maybe even that I was PMSing. But when I saw the surprised anguish on her face, I realized this film was NOT what we thought it would be.

Art should move you. It should provoke a reaction, be it anger or amusement, but I must admit, sadness isn't what I expected out of this film. Pixar has a history of making smart, adult-appealing films that feature heart-wrenching tales of love and loss, but this was different. Maybe my march towards my becoming my mother has quickened its pace, but I hope they make me laugh more and cry less next time. That's entertainment.