But, hey, you know, being an ambassador isn't all festive parties and pump-our-ego congratulatories. Sure, we had a great time at our Day After Thanksgiving Speech. The living room was decorated with blue and white streamers and yellow balloons. The centerpiece for the banquet table was a hospitality pineapple surrounded by banana bunches. Everyone was sent home with little bags of candy left over from Halloween (good candy too, not that cheap trash that I usually got when I was a kid). There will be talk of the bathtub treacle tart bob for months. All attendees had a wonderful night--and because everyone had a grand experience they will naturally assume it's all hallmark days for the Ambassador, that her life is one great smear of yellow neon marker highlight, an intricate and intoxicating melange of art, culture and politics. So many cell phones ringing what's new, newer, newest in the world of top-tier trendsetters that we've had to ban them from the dinner table, set up personnel at the entrance with a cardboard box and sign that reads, "No cell phones, buck knives, or animal-tested cosmetics." Never a dull moment in which to muse over the great question of, "Ok, what do we do to fill the time between now and the grave, as if it's a significant amount of time to consider in the first place, placed against the overwhelming, nauseating, sickening, knee and dream shattering backdrop of god-awful eternity." Not that the illuminated Irene de Mandible is ever bothered by the great grid in the sky of Bal's own nightmare, the tyrannical flyswatter of impersonal fate. One who has dared the reception line of Other Dimensions knows the illusory nature of the singular perspective which explodes when dealt the panorama of multi-faceted reality. I am--after all--Irene de Mandible, who has conversed with aliens, ridden the alchemical saucer, braved the infernal dragon tunnel in order to sing with the birds. Chirp. Chirp.
You think it's a fairy tale life for Irene de Mandible, heh?
I have to admit that being turned into an Embassy has had its positive effect around here. The litter boxes are changed daily (don't look right now, I've had a sinus infection), the dishes are washed and put in the drainer because you never know who might show up wanting some of our famous, fabulous Embassy coffee. The rugs are vacuumed (currently seeking cotton donations to replace our polyesters). The trash is carried out. And we even scrub the bathtub (kind of gross to bob for treacle tart in a tub layer-caked with the gummy slough of human flesh...man it's tenacious, isn't it).
Not that I wouldn't be doing all this if we weren't an Embassy. But we live in an old house across a busy albeit narrow street from a railroad and keeping this place halfway clean can be a daunting task.
Before we were the Embassy we were the BigSofa. Don't forget that. Still happen to be the BigSofa. Taking up internet space all of our own right. Still are.
But here we are vacuuming the rugs, in short trying to create a comfortable environment for visitors. And do they even notice?
I'm telling you, I've tried to empathize with artists who agonize over sculpting "meaning" into some few choice words. Really applied myself to that, trying to understand and care what they meant when they said a paragraph was a surprise gift package, take off the bow and inside was what they hoped was a nice present. Not that all nice gifts actually look and smell good; it's the thought that counts. Content was top priority, and the sugar that muffled the choking sound was a nod toward the illusion of entertainment. I really tried to comprehend where they were coming from, what it was like for them on their side of the river. Because the way I see it is my job is to create a safe and comfortable environment which you soak up so thoroughly that Irene simply disappears. My visitors should be so unchallenged that when they wake up they'll go, "Wow, that Irene sure knows how to throw up a web page! Is this a great embassy or what? I've never felt so at home."
Which is where I've apparently gone all wrong. Because it gets lonely being the good host and efficent Embassy. All people know is that when they put down their coffee cup, a coaster magically appears. When they lift their feet, wow, there's an ottoman. They wonder, "Where's that Embassy lady, Irene?" and imagine I'm off having a great time going about my culturally engrossing Embassy duties, and don't for a moment notice that I'm right there, moderating the Muzak so that it's ever at just the right audio level, changing tapes on the VCR so you never get a blank tube or nasty static. They might think about how maybe a party took some extra work, because they happened to notice it and had a great time that they won't forget. But what about all the great times you forget just because you're so damned comfortable???? I'm telling you, it gets lonely manufacturing them. No one ever thinks to tell me I'm doing a great job, because everything is so ultimately unnoticeable. I was thinking it would be different being an Embassy as well as the BigSofa, that I'd feel a little less isolated. Unable to create imminently generic perfection for all the different kinds of people Wymsey would send my way, despite my best intentions, a visitor or two would feel a bit of conflict when crossing the threshold. Go, "Oh, this is different." Because I hoped it was impossible to be perfectly innocuously irrelevant to everyone, when being perfectly innocuously irrelevant is the natural state of affairs around here. It's what I do. Create those mundane, inconsequential moments that the visitor sleepwalks through so they can really appreciate the bright dream world of the remainder of their internet experience.
You're going to regret that my purpose in life is creating some conflict within the indefinable Irene. You're going to start noticing the stains on the sofa that I have been unable to get out and have been covering with a camoflauge blanket. You're going to notice your handprint in the dust on the table, someone else's lipprint on your tea glass. And you're going to say, "Wow, that Irene really has fallen down on the job!" Horribly enough, it's not even my intention that you notice these things; it's just going to start happening. Because I have failed by being so terribly successful and quite frankly I don't know how to deal with it.
Or maybe things will continue on as they have been without interruption. For example, I started out with the intent of really writing something, but once again my ideas have been crowded out by inconsequence. What can I say? That I tried? Phffft.
What it comes down to is that Illumination sucks. I no longer get to be opinionated.
No, it's not "all that" being Irene de Mandible.