Question Air

Questions taken from an interview with Mark Morris in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, altered accordingly.

Best household chore: Vacuuming. Some time back I bought a Dyson vacuum, the one you see advertised by its British inventor who complains about the lack of suction in things and how he worked long and hard to invent the perfect carpet vacuum. Buy the hype, ladies and gentlemen. I love vacuuming with this thing, it does an amazing job pulling everything out from between the fibers and is relatively quiet doing so. I also find a great deal of satisfaction in a clean bathroom, though I hate actually cleaning one.

Fantasy career: A writer. Duh. If I could somehow manage to “retire” from doing real work and become a writer of fiction, I’d do it today. Now. Immediately. I have two vague plots I want to flash out (one involves a world where magic is real and everyone practices it, the other is a swords and sorcery tale about a minor god, a filthy-mouthed mercenary and his troupe of ne’er do wells as they journey in search of a pendent of questionable origin (hello, embarrassing D&D teenhood!)) but have thus far not managed to write even a page down. I did begin the fantasy story some years ago when I was still goofing around on AOL in the fantasy roleplay chat space, but it’s all gone now, lost to a hard drive failure.

Favorite place to shop: Online. It’s the world’s biggest store. You can find anything, literally, and the window shopping is unparalleled. I’m not a big eBay fan, I prefer actual merchant sites, my favorites being Bluefly for clothing and housewares, SmallFlower for bath goods and YOOX for European designers. Since losing weight, I have become a clothes horse and often buy shirts and jackets because I want them, rather than need them as I used to do. If I am in New York, I love Barney’s. Here in San Francisco, a stroll along Union Street is much more satisfying than a trip to Union Square, though I do like a sale at Saks Men’s Store.

Superstitions: None, really. At least not overtly. I have this feeling that if I ever buy a car, my employers will cease to do business. The connection between the two circumstances is tenuous and silly, but I haven’t bought a car and I’m still employed. I do bless people who sneeze because I think it’s polite, and I have walked on a grave, under a ladder and on lots of sidewalk cracks.

Morning routine: During the week, my alarm goes off at 5:50am so I can linger between the soft cotton sheets for 10 minutes and pet the cat (not an entendre) before getting up and getting ready for the gym at 7. So, that means a shower and shave, teeth brushing, packing the work clothes, making sure the cell phone has a charge and remembering to bring the light for the bike. Weekends I may be waking up in an apartment other than mine and there’s no set schedule, though my boyfriend’s sleep routine is completely different from mine (I’m longing to be abed by 10pm, he’s usually watching The Discovery Channel until 2 or 3am) so I wake before he does and make the coffee.

Evening routine: Very dull. I rarely cook–something I’m meaning to change, but haven’t yet–so I usually need to figure out what I’m going to order for dinner or I stop by the local market and see what’s available. I will then watch the previous evening’s Daily Show, having TiVo’d it, and see what else the TiVo has captured for me. When I’m lucky, I get to be with the significant other and we usually either catch a movie or watch TV at his place or mine before retiring.

Favorite memento: Hard to say. I’m unconnected to things in general, I put value on relationships and people, maybe too much so. I am so afraid of screwing those things up that I often treat them like precious and fragile things that I’ll destroy if I but breathe on them wrong. I treasure my glass dog, after which I named my other web site, and my small stuffed dog that was in my crib with me. I have an original Jim Winters painting depicting both objects that I love a lot, and some other artwork I’ve collected since moving to San Francisco that I’d hate to lose in a fire or something.

Favorite place in the house: Lounging in the Eames chair, feet up on the ottoman, a glass of o.j. next to the Sony über-remote. I can watch the world outside the front windows of my apartment or watch TV or a DVD on the HiDef.

Best thing about being you: Simplicity, I guess. My life is pretty simple. Getting to work on my bike is easy and fun, I work out to keep in shape, eat really well, live in a fantastic place and have great friends of every stripe. I should have very little to complain about, but what’s life without a little bitching now and then?

What’s your reputation: Aloof and shy and funny, I suppose. I spoke to my therapist about the shy thing, telling her I don’t actually feel shy, generally I just have nothing to say as I detest small talk and would rather stand in a corner with someone I really like than mingle around a party and meet new people. She said she doesn’t think I’m shy, I’m just quiet, but I know that I come off as stuck-up or egotistic because I am hesitant to talk to anyone I don’t know, even when introduced by a mutual friend, and generally nurse my drink until I can think of a reason to leave. The funny part comes from the sometime habit I have of saying exactly what everyone else is thinking, but only I seem to have the gaul to say it out loud.

Favorite movie: Casablanca, probably. I never tire of it. Sunday mornings, after I have been to my weekly brunch with Leslie at The Pork Store and figured out whether the boyfriend is still sleeping or not, if I end up at home I’ll likely do some laundry, getting the sheets and towels soft and clean, and slip Rick and Ilsa into the DVD player and let it go, pausing in whatever chores I am doing (most likely: the dishes, vacuuming, dusting. least likely: the windows, mopping the kitchen floor, scrubbing the shower.) to catch my favorite lines (“Are my eyes really brown?” “I came here for the waters. – Waters? What waters? Casablanca is a desert. – I was misinformed.”) and drink my espresso or latte. I’m so pretentious, honestly.

Book to recommend: Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain by Antonio R. Damasio. A treatise and examination of why and how emotions effect logical thinking. Extremely interesting, if slightly more clinical than I usually enjoy.

Your welcome mat: Don’t have one. My neighbor lays his sideways (our doors are cater corner) so we can both make use of it. It’s a simple jute woven thing. I really hate welcome mats with cute sayings on them. For that matter, I hate when they say “Welcome” on them. I’d rather they just lay there, inert and quiet.

Little big toy: My Sampo HiDef TV set. It’s much bigger than it ought to be, because even though it’s “only” 34″ diagonally, it’s a widescreen tube-type flatscreen, not a plasma or an LCD. It weighs a couple hundred pounds but the image is unbeatable. Every time I look at a projection screen or thin screen TV, I think they look lousy. The colors bleed into each other, it seems slightly unfocused and I get the impression that I’m watching two images overlapping and slightly out-of-phase. My TV uses a good old fashioned tube and its picture is bright, crisp and beautiful. It helps that it was also much cheaper than the other types when I bought it 3 years ago, and I dig that it’s a Sampo, which sounds like some fake brand the Simpsons would own. I just traded up my old TiVo to a series 2 manufactured by Humax, so it seems that I’m destined to buy brands with names made of 5-letters that no one else has ever heard of.

Last meal: That’s a hard one, I like a lot of foods and if I had to choose just one to linger on my palate as the electricity entered my body, I guess it’d be a Porterhouse steak, medium rare, baked potato swimming in butter and sour cream, a side of creamed spinach and a bottle of Penfold’s Bin 128. I’d skip desert, normally, but since I’m going to die, let me enjoy a lovely thick piece of Tiramisu and a cup of black as night, strong as death espresso.

Technology item you can’t live without: TiVo! I (heart) TiVo. When I travel and I’m without it, having to watch commercials with ffwd’ing through them, or the inability to pause a program while I visit the convenience are so annoying and frustrating. TV without TiVo feels broken and retarded, I lack the control I’m used to and I want my TiVo menus back to tell me what I’m missing elsewhere. Secondly would be DVD. I have a library of about 150 or 200 movies to choose from, along with some TV shows like Ren &amp’ Stimpy, Strangers With Candy and Mr. Show, so I can always just ignore the TV entirely and watch what I want to in widescreen surround-sound, almost like having my own theatre in my apartment.

Idea of the perfect party: I would host it so I would always have something that would be a perfect excuse to not speak with someone. Having to open another bottle of wine or check if there’s enough bread for the spinach dip, that sort of thing. I rather expect my guests to help themselves to anything they want at my party, I don’t wring my hands that they’ll open “that special bottle of Champaign” or break “my favorite goblet” or something like that. Stuff is stuff and anything can be replaced. I’d have lots of interesting, smart, funny people who mostly agree with my politics but have the balls to be frank and honest about their own ideas and beliefs. Conversation is key, and although I am averse to mingling I insist everyone else do so. It’s all done by midnight so I can clean the place up by 1AM and be in bed.

Topic you wouldn’t bring up at a party: I don’t think there’s anything that shouldn’t be talked about. I love talking politics and religion and even the weather, though I would hope for something more engaging and challenging than that. Plus, when people have been drinking they let their guard down and often you find out something more truthful about them than you would otherwise have an opportunity to do.

Fictional character you most identify with: Eeyore.

Favorite decorating technique: I don’t have a single one, but I think that furniture should look like it’s been sort of thrown at the floor rather than carefully placed on it. Most of my stuff sits at an angle to the walls and is pulled away, which in a small apartment like mine reduces the traffic space but I think it looks better, more lively and interesting. I placed these two lights behind my huge TV that shine up, very theatrical. And I must implore everyone to invest in original artwork and stop going to Off The Wall or any of those horrid mall stores that sell Ansel Adams posters and call that art. Go to your local galleries and support an artist. God knows the government won’t do it, and Ansel Adams’s family doesn’t need any more money.

Thing in your house you’re fussiest about: Pillow placement. I am forever arranging the pillows on my bed and couch just so. I want them plump and attractive. I don’t care how they are abused when people actually use them, but when they’re just sitting there by themselves I am always wanting to arrange them the way I want them. I am not a daily bed-maker, but after I wash the sheets and make the bed up with its four sleeping pillows and five incidental pillows, the duvet cover and the woven blanket… all those elements combine is a very specific way. I’m very Martha Stewart about my pillows.

Procrastination technique: Doing anything other than the thing you are avoiding, usually that means updating links on glassdog, writing something useless here, designing a web site for an idea that will never reach fruition or watching TiVo’d junk like The Brak Show or West Wing reruns.

Guilty pleasure: Long, hot showers. 20 minutes or more. I know I’m wasting energy and water and time and who knows what else, but I love to stand in the steady shower of hot water and just let it all flow over me. Baths, occasionally, but showers mostly. The bath water grows cold and I think the silence starts to prey on me. I can sing in the shower, exfoliate, shampoo, blow snot rockets, really just slough myself of everything dirty and away it goes down the drain. Then I can just stand there and feel good all over.

What’s by your bedside: A stack of books I have either already read or am in the process of reading. A Tivoli Model 3, a glass of water, half-drank, a small bottle of lube, my eyeglasses and a lamp. I keep a box of tissues on the floor for my morning nose-blowing routine.

Pets: Paris. A cat. Named not after the sluttish New York it-girl, but because she was born on Bastille Day, July 14, 2002.

Recent purchase: I bought a new table that I’ve been meaning to use for a party at my place. My small apartment is so crowded with furniture and junk that having any number of people over has become challenging, but I love to give parties (more than I love to go to them) and I really want lots of people over to drink all the wine I keep collecting and feast on crusty bread and runny cheese and olive tapenade. I’ve used the table exactly once, for a steak dinner I prepared for me and my boyfriend, candlelight and the whole nine yards, but it expands out to hold lots and lots of stuff so I need to cover it in food and have all my friends come over and eat it all up.

Always in the fridge: Odwalla orange juice, brie, garlic (for roasting and spreading on crusty bread) and a large plastic tub of hummus. Lately I stock Diet 7-Up, which the boyfriend drinks obsessively. I keep a very bachelor-style refrigerator. Lots of condiments, nothing to put them on.

Nagging injury: My hip occasionally goes into spasms of sharp pain for no reason whatsoever. Doctors in my youth said it was bursitis but I think that was just because they didn’t know what the hell it was. It seemed to occur more often when I was fat than lately. Otherwise, there’s just that feeling of worthlessness that never seems to disappear completely.

Collections: Vast amout of CDs and DVDs. A small collection of 18:1 scale small European sedans (original Mini Cooper, Citroën 2CV, BMW Isetta, the SmartCar) to fulfill my wish of owning a small European sedan. I have always loved the cunning engineering and plain cuteness of those little cars from across the pond. Americans tend to make such big, ugly, overbearing beasts that stride the road like a colossus, though the chrome-drenched monsters of the 40’s and 50’s do make my jaw drop in unbelieving desire. Cars with wings? Yum! But having lived here in San Francisco, the appeal of small cars fitting into small parking spaces and zipping down curving boulevards is quite appealing. I wish Mercedes would sell the A-class here. But I know it will never happen. Yes, we have the Mini, but that’s pretty much it. We need more small city cars!

Fitness routine: Unfailingly at the gym at 7AM every Monday and Thursday for weight-training. Attempt to be there on Tuesday and Friday as well, usually manage one or the other. Getting back to the cardio stuff lately on the elliptical trainers, as I hate and detest and thoroughly do not enjoy jogging or aerobics. But lately the fatter layer is making a comeback so it’s back to the sweaty heart-racing junk. I enjoy weight training, though, and I look forward to my workouts.

Recurring nightmare: None, recently. I used to have one involving a giant, slow-moving robot that wanted to kill me, and then there were the ones about earthquakes, followed shortly by nuclear wars and being unable to hide or something weird. I dream in color, and I must say that a mushroom cloud is a gorgeous terror.

Idea of a perfect day: Lately it involves the boyfriend. His work is taking up a lot of his time, so we have less of it together than I would like, but rather than complain I just take what I can get and am happy for that. The day begins in bed, together, and I inevitably rise before he does and make coffee. The day will be San Francisco warm, meaning around 70 degrees, and the sky will be very blue. It’s probably Saturday or Sunday so I don’t even have to think about work. Big breakfast. Huge. Immense. Likely involving pork products, perhaps Hollandaise. More coffee. Orange juice. Long, hot shower. He reads the business section, I read the magazine, book reviews and entertainment. Avoid comics at all costs.
We will go out shopping but probably buy nothing, unless it is a pair of jeans he cannot live without, a pair of shoes I cannot live without, or we accidentally on purpose end up in Lush, in which case we cannot leave without buying something. Honey soap for me, something smelling of Lavender (probably the Big Blue Bath Bomb) for him.
Lunch is not as large as breakfast, and is probably forgotten altogether. Instead we get more coffee and a pastry of some sort. Or ice cream.
We elect to use the bath bomb together and relax for a bit in the steamy, amazing-smelling bath. We’re hot and wet and so, you know, sex.
No longer wishing to join any crowds, we go to BLOCKBUSTER and rent something we’ll both enjoy but which one of us (at least) is likely to have already seen. Maybe an old MST3K episode (Cavedwellers is a favorite) and the boy loves a good/bad horror flick, so something with buckets of blood and lots of creepiness. We stop by 7-11 to grab him a Diet 7-Up and me some chocolate chip cookies and settle onto the bed to watch the DVD. Having wasted the afternoon, what better way to slip into the night than to book a massage from a certified porn star?
It’s dark outside now, and stomachs are rumbling. Me, I always want meat, so we stay in and he cooks (because he enjoys it and he’s better at it than I am) and we sit together and have grown-up dinner. There’s a new movie we both want to see playing at one of San Francisco’s many Landmark movie houses, but we end up at Metreon anyway because A) parking and B) convenience.
I have to have popcorn for a movie and he has to share mine, so I buy a big bag of hot ‘corn and a large bucket of Diet Coke and we settle into the big, reclining seats and prepared to be bombarded with Dolby 16-channel sound while Hollywood attempts to regurgitate something someone else already did better, but with less impressive special effects.
Finally, in bed, kisses goodnight and sleeping under the covers, ignoring the sounds of the city and dreaming about flying.

November 5, 2004

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