Nicole's Deep Thoughts

Week One.

In which your fearless editor bakes brownies, goes to see Ministry, gets a haircut, complains about lots of stuff, and disappoints people coming to her site from faraway lands in search of piss.

A word on the entry about Woodstock '99: At the time I wrote that entry, I hadn't heard anything about the sexual assaults that took place there, and I wouldn't have taken such a flippant tone about the whole thing if I'd known about that. I just thought that needed to be made clear.

Back to the journal index.

7/30/99 -- Friends Don't Let Friends Post Late At Night.

I just reread that last entry and realized that it sounded singularly inane. Especially the part about the girl with ovarian cancer. Duh, it's a serious disease. Duh, you can get it even when you're young. Never mind. I guess that what struck me more than anything else was how matter-of-fact she was as she discussed it all with her friend. I'd be a sobbing, blithering wreck. In fact, I probably wouldn't even talk about it at all. Talking about it would be acknowledging that it was happening, and I'm one of those people who copes with trouble by shoving it in that mental closet at the back of my brain. If I'm ignoring it, it'll just go away, right? I know it's a less-than-efficient way to handle problems. But it's gotten me this far in life.

Anyhow, I had a great time at the Ministry show on Wednesday night, with Fuzzbass, Paul Styrene, Augusté, and Bill. I'd like to think that the 19-year-old me dancing to "Every Day is Halloween" at O'Hooley's "Alternative Dance Night" at Ohio U. would find it incredibly cool that the 30-year-old me would go to see them live. Not to mention that the younger me would be amazed to hear what Ministry sounds like now, which is absolutely nothing, and I mean nothing, like how they sounded back in '89. I only recognized a few songs by name (and no, they didn't play "Stigmata," which seems to be everyone's first question if they know anything at all about Ministry), but they put on a damn good show that was worth the high ticket and TicketBastard prices.

Fun crowd to crowd-watch, too -- lots of people broke out their leather finery, their fishnets and their multicolored hair dye for that feeling of "Let's all be different together!" solidarity. I liked trying to pick out which people generally dress like that, and which people had frantically dug out whatever black clothing and heavy eyeliner they could get their hands on at the last minute. ("Stop by the Petco! I gotta get a dog collar!") I like to think that I stood out in that crowd -- I was still wearing my DC worker bee dress, complete with my work ID tag dangling around my neck. That's me, out on the edge, never afraid to make a statement.

Let it be said that concession prices at the 9:30 have gotten completely fuckin' ridiculous. A bottle of Beck's Dark set me back $4.50. That's right -- $4.50. At the local Giant, $4.50 would get me a six-pack of Dundee's Honey Brown, a much tastier beer if you ask me. I don't get it. It's not as if the club's in a snazzy neighborhood with high rents (far from it, actually), and they seem to do decent business at most shows I attend there -- what's with the skyhigh drink prices?

I took the words "piss me off" off my index page, and that seemed to cut down on the various piss-seekers visiting my site today. However, we did have one unsatisfied customer this afternoon. From Finland, yet. Actually, this person visited the archives page and read the piece about my engagement. I noticed that and got the warm fuzzies, and thought that maybe this person wasn't a gross creep after all -- and then I looked at the archive page again and noticed that for the link to this piece, I wrote that I "gush" about my engagement. I bet that "gush" jumped right off the page for Mr. Piss Fan, and ... well ... no need to paint a picture. Nope. That's enough.

Oh well. Tomorrow night, I'm going to try my hand at archiving this page somewhere and restarting the journal for a new week. No doubt, I'll mull over where to put the archived page all day tomorrow, and then when I fix it up, I'll hate it anyhow and change it again next week.

My work here is never done.

7/29/99 -- Yes, We Have No Piss.

As some of you probably know by now, my site got several different search engine hits from people looking for the word "piss" today. Whoa. So, if you stumbled across this site while looking for something more along the lines of "Nude Teenage Golden Showers," I apologize -- go yell at Alta Vista and tell them to cut it out. (And, um ... ewwwww. To each his own and everything, but yikes. Wouldn't a nice beer be better?)

I went to my old hair salon to get my hair done today. I like this place because you can go in without an appointment and get some nose-ringed teenager who's way too cool to even want to look at the likes of you, and even so they'll still do a really good job. The downside is that some of them seem to have a knack for knowing just what to say to make you feel like complete dog dirt. The woman cutting my hair last night kept going on and on about how my new cut was going to make me look "Younger! So much younger! Much younger!" Like, okay, I got it, thanks. I looked like a bedraggled old hag when I went in. That's kinda why I went to the salon in the first place; I don't need my face rubbed in it. I sat there stewing -- did I look that much older than my 30 years, which I don't even consider all that old, or was she one of those 18-year-old bimbos who think anyone over 22 is ready for the glue factory? Anyhow, it looks cute now, and I know I'll never be able to replicate the look because I don't have two hours in the morning to meticulously blow-dry each individual hair, like this girl did. (But it's soooooo bouncy!)

On the Metro this morning, a very young woman sitting right behind me was talking with a friend about going camping with her boyfriend, in very strident, irritating Valley Girl-type speak ("Ohmigod, it was like, soooo cold up there? and I was like totally miserable?") and just as I was starting to wish the Blair Witch had gotten her so I wouldn't have to listen to her annoying blather, she casually dropped the fact that she had ovarian cancer. At that point, I craned my neck to get a look at her. All I could think was My god, she's so young. She looked perfectly healthy, but she started matter-of-factly detailing the treatments she was going to receive, and it sounded like an extremely serious situation. I got off the train mulling over the facts that 1. this very young, vibrant-looking woman was suffering from such a grave disease, and 2. she was handling it all so much better than I ever would in that situation.

New Soon-to-Open-Movie I'm Already Sick Of: "Dick." I'm sorry, but another anti-Nixon movie? Gee, there's a rich vein of never-been-mined comedy.

There's more I wanted to talk about, but it's late and I'm tired, and my ears are still ringing from seeing Ministry. (Great show, by the way.)

7/27/99 -- I'm Sick of This.

I wonder how many more editorials, articles, and online messages I'm going to have to read about how sick everyone is of hearing about JFK, Jr.'s death, and about how they don't want to talk about it anymore or read another thing about it. "I'm sick of all this. Yup, boy. I'm going to devote this long article to convincing you that this guy wasn't a big deal. I'm going to talk for a long while about how I don't want to talk about this anymore. Don't stop reading until you've read all about how I don't want to read another thing about John, Jr. Pay extra attention to my detailed breakdown of his employment history and every starlet he's dated -- that's how unimportant his life was to me. Be sure to hang on for my blow-by-blow recap of all the horrible, excessive TV coverage that I hated watching. Whaddaya mean, where's my remote?"

You're sick of him? Fine, but those claims lack some believability when people need to go on and on and on about how they don't care about him and how he wasn't that important. Maybe it's just me, but from all outward appearances, the Kennedys themselves are moving on with their lives much faster than the "I'm Sick of John-John" gripers are.

Bill just summoned me outside to show me that the moon is especially freaky tonight -- it's a full, orangey circle looming in the sky. You could mistake it for the sun. It's as if it's reflecting the relentless heat down here on Earth.

It's happening again -- Invasion of the Filthy Dishes. I still don't get it. Bill wasn't even home this weekend, I cleaned up the kitchen Saturday night, neither one of us has eaten very much at home (we've been living off a big kettle of pasta, beans and tomatoes I made on Saturday), and yet everything's dirty. Every fork, every bowl, every coffee mug, and all but two plates. The dishwasher was close to bursting by the time we turned it on tonight. All our spatulas are dirty, for fuck's sake, and we haven't cooked a thing. How the hell does this happen?

I've hit an impasse on Quake 2 -- on one level, just after you've dodged a series of falling ceilings and stabbing weapons that come out of the walls, the floor shatters, exposing spikes and lava. I've tried literally dozens of times and can't figure out how to get past that without dying. It's driving me nuts. I'm getting carpal tunnel syndrome from the numerous attempts I've made at solving this.

I'm going to have to stop tomorrow, though ... we're going to see Ministry.

7/26/99 -- Beware the Bridal Bitch.

So today, I realized I'm slowly turning into the creature I always swore I'd never become -- the Psycho Bride-to-Be from Hell. It's getting to the point where if anyone makes a suggestion that doesn't fit in with my vision of the wedding day, it sends me into a hair-tossing, foot-stomping swivet. And I hate that. I'm searching for that calm inner voice that says "Easy, Nicole -- it was only a suggestion." I don't know why I'm turning into such a spoiled brat, either. I just had that whole idea of the perfect, uncomplicated day in my head, and it seems I'll turn into a fierce beast in order to defend it from what I see as these attacks on it, when a simple, reasonable discussion generally does the trick.

Or maybe it's just something in the air. (Of course. It couldn't really be all my fault, now, could it?) I was walking to the Metro after work today and saw an altercation between two drivers -- one of them slammed on his brakes right on the edge of a traffic circle, ran back to the pickup truck stopped behind him, and started screaming profanities in a pronounced Noo Yawk accent (though he had Virginia plates). "Whatssamadda with you? You stuuuuuuupit? You fuckin' stuuuupit? Fuuuhuuuuck youuuu!" I'm always amused, in that cynical, contemptuous way of mine, when people think their precious pride is worth stopping traffic, staging scenes, endangering the lives of other drivers, etc. I may need to count to ten and get over myself on occasion, but I'm not the only one. Christ, people. You're driving a car, not piloting a space shuttle. Switch to decaf and get a grip.

How do you like those Woodstock riots? As far as I'm concerned, all these idiots deserve each other. I'm sick of seeing "Woodstock" affixed to perfectly ordinary, boring music festivals where the bottled mineral water costs $5 an ounce. I'm not a big fan of overhyped, overpriced music festivals in general. Promoters have managed to sap out most of whatever fun the festivals used to have, and the idiot crowds who think that giving each other internal injuries in the mosh pit and throwing pizza boxes and bottles at each other is the height of fun have ruined the rest of it. Fuck all of 'em, I say. Let 'em all set each other on fire.

Goodness. This has been a cheery, upbeat piece, no? Um ... the good news is that our honeymoon and wedding plans are nearly set. And it's almost Tuesday, which is a lame day because it's so damn early in the week yet, but not quite as lame as Monday.

7/25/99 -- Lowbrow, Highbrow, Brownie Sunday.

As I said yesterday, I've started playing Quake 2 for the Nintendo 64. I'm sure people who remember my time as part of the KYFF crew last summer are a little baffled that I'd even bother with the N64 version. The truth is that my poor little PC just doesn't seem to handle elaborate video games all that well -- it's fine with "You Don't Know Jack," but "Riven" made it sit in the corner and cry about the strain put on its soundcard and its measly little graphics card. "Quake 2" fell somewhere in between. Ultimately, buying the N64 game seemed cheaper and easier than spending the necessary time and money to rehab my PC. Of course, the downside is that I can't get a cool customized Barbie skin from Queen Elvis for this version.

Anyhow, this time Nintendo had enough sense to develop a version of Quake 2 that's distinctly different from the single-player PC version. (They didn't do that with the first Quake, and justifiably caught a lot of grief about it.) It borrows some of the same game elements (such as the flies buzzing around corpses, and the really creepy prison level with soldiers crawling around, moaning, and begging you to kill them), but made them into a more challenging single-player game. The only big drawback is the monsters -- most of them are extremely s-l-o-w. "Uh-oh. Here comes a Berserker. I better walk a little faster." (Now I suck because I just stole that line from someone who was quoted in a magazine about why the Mummy never made all that great of a villain in the old Universal horror movies.) They're only impressive when you blunder into a huge roomful of them, and even then it's usually pretty easy to dart in and out of the door until you've isolated them. Even so, I'm finding the game highly addictive.

In between killing weird cyborg monsters, I finally finished Charles Simic's "Jackstraws," lent to me by Augusté Haversham, who will probably never lend me a book again because it takes me so damn long to finish them when he does. Anyhow, for the most part, I really enjoyed the book. There were a few poems that made me go "Huh?" rather than "Ahhhh!" but that's the case with a lot of poetry in general, and "Jackstraws" had a much lower "Huh?" percentage than most anthologies. "Medieval Miniature" and "On a Lack of Respect Paid to the Ceiling" were two of my favorites -- I like Simic's offbeat sense of humor, something I don't often see in a lot of poetry. (I always feel like a bit of a moron when I'm talking about poetry, by the way. "That there passage was real good. I like, uh, the words and stuff." Or "I don't get it." I never know how to express why one poem will reach me and another one will leave me cold. Sometimes I can't believe I majored in English Lit.) I also enjoyed Simic's bug fixation, which surfaces again and again throughout the collection. Made me wish I'd been reading the book in my old apartment, to give me more of a sense of humor about my own little roach problem. ("Little." Yeah. "Little.")

Finally, I'm still trying with the brownies. I'm baking a batch right now to surprise Bill when he gets home from his parents' house. I guess by the time I put this on the Web, he'll already have seen them and it won't be much of a surprise anymore, but whatever. Seems like no matter what I do or how much I mix, I can't get rid of a few lumps of unmixed batter that make for little crunchy bits in the baked brownies. D'oh.

7/24/99 -- You're the head of the crew? That's nice. Now get me some coffee, honey.

I had a perfect cat day today. I sprawled on the couch, napped, and ate. Well, I played Quake II for the N64, which isn't terribly catlike, I guess. But I bet if cats had opposable thumbs, they'd play Nintendo too.

Something I meant to rant about last week ... Friday a week ago, I was looking through USA Today while waiting for Bill at a Starbucks. There was an article about Eileen Collins, the first woman to head a space shuttle crew. (I'd link to direct quotes from the article, but USA Today asks for a credit card and charges you to access archived pieces and, well, fuck that. You'll just have to trust me.) The article was okay until the last few paragraphs, where we got the comments of a couple of guys who either thought they were being funny, or forgot that we're living in 1999. One crew member made a joke about "Think of the line for the bathrooms" on any shuttle crew with lots of women. Har har. Another man (I forget his position and why he was being quoted) complained about NASA's plans for a future all-woman crew, calling it a "publicity stunt." To which another director at NASA, who was also a man (I can't remember his name but wanted to point out that not every man quoted in the article was an idiot), shot back "How come an all-male crew isn't a 'publicity stunt', but an all-woman crew would be?" I'm surprised nobody was quoted as saying "What if she gets really bad PMS and decides to open a hatch and cause the resulting vaccuum to suck all the men out of the ship?"

Right underneath this article was a little feature about Valentina Tereshkova, the last female space commander before Collins. Guess what they said about her? She went completely batshit while up in space! They nearly lost her -- the men on the ground had to get her safely back to Earth, because she freaked out to the point where she couldn't do anything. Russia kept that little fact covered up for years and years, but USA Today thoughtfully brought the story up again in conjunction with their Eileen Collins article.

Bon voyage, Eileen Collins and her crew! Hope she doesn't freak out, too, but she's a woman, so really, what could you expect?

I know. USA Today isn't a real paper. But a lot of people read it anyhow, dammit. I used to roll my eyes when various groups would yabber on about being "subtly undermined" in the media, but now I'm starting to understand how they must have felt. Those articles, on top of Tony Kornheiser's dismissive editorial about the US women winning the World Cup in a Washington Post from the same week, really made me wonder. Why is it that every time women achieve something new, or just get a lot of publicity, the media always has to report the views of at least one man who knocks away all the positive comments with a baseball bat and explains why what the women did just isn't all that great? Are they that scared of women climbing into their secret treehouses? Are they just assholes?

On a related note, one thing I don't like about Q2 for the N64 is that there's no option for a female player (or if there is, I haven't found it yet -- maybe it's a cheat code), as there was in the PC version. Boo, hiss, Nintendo.

7/23/99 -- Holy Retro-Hero, Nicole!

For reasons I'm not really sure of, I've started compulsively buying collections of Batman comic books (oh, excuse me -- "graphic novels"). I started off with a book called "Batman in the Sixties," in which the collected comics read just like the old TV show -- you can practically hear the "Na-na-na-na na-na-na-na" theme music and envision the "POW!" "KRAKK!" "SOK!" graphics flying at you whenever you look at the book. I'll have to list some of my favorite ridiculous lines of dialogue from the different comics when I get a chance (or have nothing better to talk about).

I've also gotten some of the newer "Dark Knight"-style graphic novels (my, but that term gets on my nerves; it absolutely blows the circuits on my pretentious-o-meter). Last night I picked up the anthologized collection of the infamous comics where Robin died. I remember that causing quite the hoopla when it first came out, back in the 80s. Anyhow, it's great fun and doesn't disappoint. Before Robin dies, he takes pains to track down his birth mother (whose existence he didn't discover until the first chapter in this series), a quest which takes him to Israel, Beirut (don't ask), and finally to Ethiopia, where Bio-Mommy turns out to be working for Ethiopian famine relief. Sounds really noble, but it's just Robin's shitty luck that she's also in cahoots with the Joker -- the treacherous bitch turns her long-lost son over to the Joker to keep him (and Robin) from exposing her own misdeeds. Dr. Laura would not be amused. But they both get blown up when the Joker rigs the warehouse with explosives to destroy evidence that he was ever there. Bio-Mommy lives long enough to repent on her deathbed. Robin doesn't get any moving death scenes -- he's already circled the drain when Batman finds him.

The comic also features special guest appearances by that 80s embodiment of evil, Ayatollah Khomeini (who makes the Joker the official UN delegate to Iran) and Superman (who's sent by the State Department to keep Batman from causing an international incident when he finds out the Joker has full diplomatic immunity and can't be prosecuted for killing Robin). Whew. Judith Krantz herself couldn't come up with a more melodramatic, overwrought plot, although she'd probably make Robin turn out to be Batman's long-lost son.

The comic made me wonder the same thing I always do when reading anything related to Batman ... why the hell would anyone in their right mind live in Gotham City? In the comics, it's always portrayed as this fabulously glamorous place, with the obligatory bad neighborhoods and sleazy officials. The bad part of town is called "Crime Alley," so that people can distinguish between places where they might get killed by a petty thug and places where they might be killed by the Penguin, I suppose. Seriously, would you live there? You'd never know when the Joker was planning to hit you with his "lethal laughing gas", or whether Poison Ivy might be hiding out and dosing your drink with a virus that'll turn you into a human mushroom farm. You wouldn't know if Mr. Freeze was planning to ice over the entire city (or coat it in hilariously fake-looking plastic, if you're living in the Gotham of the last Batman movie). Could Southeast DC be much scarier? I dunno. Maybe the rents are really low there.

That's the kind of stuff I dwell on when I'm putting off thinking about stuff that's much more important. Such as finding a good site for our wedding party. I had to turn back to one of the loathsome DC Bride magazines, for lack of a more comprehensive list of places with banquet facilities. My first choice would have been the incredibly cool Torpedo Factory (it's a combination art gallery/art school now, for those who don't know), but the rental cost there would have negated our efforts to keep our wedding costs reasonable. Rats.

I'm getting sick and fucking tired of the nonstop commercials for that movie "Drop Dead Gorgeous." Wow, bitchy beauty pageant contestants. There's a novel idea. From the sound of things, Kirstie Alley practiced her thick "Minnesotan" accent by renting "Fargo" and repeating everything Frances McDormand said. Give me a break. I know I know -- lighten up, Nicole, it's a comedy. Whatever.

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