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Sunday, March 14, 2004

Time goes by

Growing up, I tended to receive a large wall calendar every Christmas, from one family member or another. Knowing me pretty well, they tended not to get me landscapes or frolicking puppies; I remember a few years running with various incarnations of Trek, followed by a succession of X-Files calendars. I didn't really use them to keep track of events and due dates -- I've usually had an assignment book around for that sort of thing -- but it was a nice ritual, flipping over a page at the beginning of every month. If the picture featured was from a particularly good episode, or it was an especially cool picture of Wil Wheaton, I felt it meant good things for the month to follow. Superstitions dwell deep in my blood.

I was deep into my comics phase when my family gave me a Wonder Woman calendar two years ago -- I appreciated the sentiment, but wasn't entirely thrilled, due to my belief that Wonder Woman is a pretty goddamn lame superhero. (Boys tend to disagree with me on this point, but boys tend to list "super-hot-ness" as one of Wonder Woman's powers.) It didn't help when, after a few months, it became clear that whoever assembled the photos in question had a bit of a dirty mind; each month grew progressively less subtle about the sexual nature of these comics. After a while, it grew to be wonderfully surreal -- surreal enough that at the end of the year, I spent an evening cutting the Wonder Woman calendar apart and reassembling it into two large collages that dominate my room and hallway. The one in my room is fairly mild, but above the table where we put our mail, Wonder Woman wrestles sweatily with her evil twin, forbids all men from entering Aphrodite Island, brandishes her lasso of truth. The most prominent picture features Wonder Woman on her back, arms and legs tied around an A-bomb plummeting towards Metropolis. Never before has terrorism taken on such an overtly erotic angle.

The year afterwards, I forgot to ask for a new one, and ended up finding a tribute to classic film stars at a secondhand book shop. I grew to love the Wonder Woman calendar, but gorgeous black and white photos of Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, and Sean Connery were a bit of a relief for a year.

I forgot to ask for a new one this year, too, and have spent the past few months looking around for something good. I'm bad at making decisions, though. One of the reasons I liked getting them as presents was that it took some of the choice off my shoulders -- when you're buying a calendar for another person, it's a fairly low-maintenance gift. Go to a store, find one that matches their interests, and you're done. Buying one for yourself is trickier, because this time it's your wall we're talking about -- you know you're going to be staring at it for an entire year, and you want something just right. I wasn't having any luck at the stores I frequented, everything interesting costing more than I was willing to pay, and soon it started feeling a bit desperate. I never realized before these past few months how much I do use the wall calendar -- not to mark things down, but to keep track of the passing of time, to realize how few days there are until my bills and rent and Bookslut column are due. Not to mention the fact that flipping the calendar reminds me that another month's gone by -- and what have I done with it? Sometimes a lot, sometimes very little. But it's a way of accounting for the four weeks that have just slipped by, often without my noticing.

I knew the situation was dire when I considered the calendars on sale at the gift shop across the street -- puppies, kittens, or twelve-inch cocks being their selection. (Ah, West Hollywood.) I've got nothing against twelve-inch cocks, of course, but twelve months of them is a bit much. That's 144 inches of reminder that I need a life. That's 138 more than I need.

Thanks be to the comic book store today, though, for Audrey Hepburn no longer stares at me meancingly, and instead a half-off Sandman calendar dangles from its nail. It is dreamy and gorgeous, full of Dave McKean and Yoshitaka Amano art, Neil Gaiman words, and an awesome collection of dates. Edgar Allen Poe's birthday fell on Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year, I've learned. "Mr. Sandman" hit #1 on the charts on January 1, 1955.

I'm gonna leave January up for another week or so, then Februrary, then the last week of March with the actual month of March. And calendar time will eventually catch up with real time, and I will finally be able to look to my side and know exactly how many days remain.

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