Posts Tagged ‘airport’

Uneasy need for rest

I spent yesterday in bed writing drafts and abandoning them, watching feeds, absorbing too much information. After the long intense weekend, complete rest might have been a better idea. Last night in sleep and waking I scrabbled an endless round of anxiety dreams about airports, schedules, missed trains, my wheelchair being taken away from me, being lost in cars, and stressful arguments. I don’t want to get out of my pajamas. My mom and dad are here, planning to take Moomin to the giant complicated indoor playground-inside-a-swimming pool in the East Bay, meeting Minnie and her baby, going back to her house, so I also feel torn and sad and want to be with them and that I am letting my family down, my child barely missed me, I am not needed, I did not organize, I didn’t invite, I didn’t cook or shop or prepare, I’m not participating, I’m not paying attention, I’m letting the moments slip away.

I made hundreds of shallow connections, but not enough deep ones. Nothing felt like it bore fruit in the moment. But, it will, and I trust that. Instead I was a conduit and a connection point. I didn’t do anything, make anything, fix anything, build, create, even in my imagination it all remained inchoate — but I took the quick evaluations & shallow connections and said here, you talk with her, you need to know this, read this, are you aware of exactlywhatyouneed.net, and people lit up as they connected, as if I were a telephone switchboard. If I am invisible in that, I have to still be satisfied with my role and abandon my ego. It is hard to be visible, but invisible. A sort of conspicuous mascot, seen but not known. I could cry on the shoulder of everyone I met but did not get to know. Is it possible to love everyone? Maybe, but not to love them right. There is too much, there are so many of us, I am starving to know everything and everyone.

Oh poor me, a weekend of hundreds of people telling me I’m super awesome!

Ugh! But am I… I’m so not… they don’t know… Is it enough? Am I enough? Can I ever do enough to be satisfied with myself? Can I at least finish a few projects, follow through on anything? How do I know that people like me for the right reasons? What if it’s all flash and show and surface, and false?

Where is my discipline?

What if I am making all the wrong choices?

But back in real life and out of my theoretical identity tailspin:

Aside from catching up with some regular work, I want to continue trying to synthesize this weekend and some general thoughts about blogging, gender, class, and digital divides. And I’d like to look forward as well into planning some things to do or suggesting directions.

I have an awful lot of blogging cards to look at. Blogs to consider and link to. Notes from conversations to write up. Thoughts to gather and express.

Meanwhile the book project is on the back burner, a constant torment and source of guilt.

I am comforted yet perturbed as the hypothetical of “at some point in next few years Rook might switch career tracks and have a break” becomes “Now I support the family for a while and switch roles myself.” Can I do it? I’m a little scared. It might be a very good thing in many dimensions.

I might need in a big way to migrate all my blogs back into a single one, clean up this one big time with proper tags and categories even if most of the categories are nebulous like “Long Philosophical Rant Mixed with Daily Life and the Juicy Bits Buried Baroquely”. Badgermama and Composite feel so cramped and sterile and thank god I still ramble on at length without trying to narrow the focus here, where I say whatever the hell I want (barring a couple of limitations which i will keep trying hard to think of as Tact).

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Parties, and Eddie Izzard show

I showed up at the hotel early this afternoon and then realized there wasn’t a central place (yet) for me to camp and work. I had been somewhat frustrated at driving in traffic downtown, got lost & overtired. So I fled the hotel with cramps & no lunch; nearly got run over by a cab driver at the parking garage, screamed fuck you at the cab driver and then felt super embarrassed (Lindsay was in the cab and claimed she had feared for her life on the ride from the airport) and went to Zond-7′s where I laid down to work and was able to complain neurotically, ate a tuna sandwich with the new super nice organic produce delivery, chocolate, pecked at more work, nursed my cramps, and calmed the hell down. Back to the hotel this time in a cab (since it is a 10 dollar cab ride but like 50 bucks a microsecond to park in the hotel garage.) Hotel = superswank.

The parties rocked – I saw SJ – Squid – Skud – Jenijen – Jenny – Maria – Beth Kanter – omg everyone – there was a lot of hugging – we had our photos taken for new hi res pix on the site – I committed “bloggerface” – I felt mildly bewildered that everyone else was going off to special invite-only parties and I had not been asked to any – And yet not really that jealous at all – Just in the minor way that I would like to say no instead of feeling left out. Got over it. Felt a little like Nathan Barley myself for a few minutes there… I imagined myself shoving my computer into someone’s face and going look – “TRASHBAT.COCK”. this image kept me giggling – and kept me going. Hugged 20 million more people… met lovebabz and Lauren and Adrienne from Black Woman in Europe – gossiped some more with Beth – talked with Claudia who writes for El Tiempo – had a rum and coke – videoed erin and laurie and some others on the wii boxing. I picked up some emily’s list swag and also those free wine charms (oops! ones). I then hauled ass out of there to get another cab to just a few blocks away to see Eddie Izzard. I started out mildly hostile from the somewhat clumsy attempts at “local san francisco ” humor and because the callbacks (bits where he’d go back and reference an earlier bit) were also sort of klutzy and I felt un-trusting that they would not be dumb. But, then they weren’t, and they all built up and became really good. My other main criticism is that slapping creationism is kind of a cheap shot. It worked and it was funny but a combination of things meant that I could see the show as being a reach for a particular profundity by Izzard and it didn’t quite get there. But, close. If he had said the word “stromatolite” i might have forgiven a bit more. Go a little deeper please, on all of it… it would be funnier… even if not everyone gets it… I wondered if it was dumbed down on purpose to be accessible. I did like the sparta bits and hannibal bits… Did his god moments get near cosby’s god and noah? Or are my memories of cosby’s god and noah a bit rusty – because I thought they got near to it. So on the great side, Izzard swayed me around to his side and I was laughing my ass off by the last half of the show. He was doing like 5 levels of the “callbacks” at once until they were layered up very ridiculously and the traumatized squirrel survivor of the ark was helping feed skittles to the plague frogs and half the 10 commandments ended up from the squirrel. (10. when someone comes, run up a tree ) and giraffes were playing charades and then a velociraptor in a derby hat (who was really god) has a conversation with jesus about spiders having sex, and bjorn borg/boromir does a whole tennis match with new coached inter-thwock grunting sound effects and you can see all of it perfectly well though it’s imaginary, that’s really impressive!

Rook liked it but I think was reserved about the cheap shots. Zond-7 had the comedian’s critique which I will not attempt to explain. I liked it very much though I wanted more or better, somehow. More depth to outweigh the jokes.

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Boasting on blogs; the perils of condescension

Help! I can’t find the inscription that Ashurbanipal had in every room of his palace. It’s one of those long recitations of boasting and praise, listing all the things he built in his cities, the places he conquered and how he puts his foot on the neck of his enemy and is like the wild lion of the mountains. It was at the end of the room with Assyrian friezes in the British Museum! Somehow I failed to take a photo of it and its translation.

I want it for nefarious purposes, to make an Assyrian inscription boast-about-your-blog generator widget.

Open Tech was fun; I met a bazillion people, got to see my friend cdent, saw D. fizz up with ideas and charismaticness on stage, and took notes on some interesting talks. I’ll post my notes on Composite, but the strangest and most interesting talk was from a guy who does screen scraping on Khandahar airport, filters out the obviously legitimate commercial flights, compares them against lists of planes that have open credit to refuel at U.S. army air bases, and then somehow uses that (I don’t think in any automated way) with other data from looking up airplane ownership and company records to help track down international arms dealers. So, somewhat to my amusement this was back to back with an eco-activist from Bristol who does some work on paths and public access (bike trails? foot paths? something) and while his work sounded very smart and effective I did marvel at his level of paranoia about government spying and infiltrating of his activist efforts — in sharp contrast to the dude who reviles and stalks the scary thuggish illegal arms dealers’ corporate activities, who just shrugs and says “Oh well, no one’s come after me yet.” It was explained to me at dinner that with all the strange monitoring and cctv and the power that local councils have, it might not be unreasonable for the Bristol guy to think his local cops are sniffing his traffic or tracking who he calls on his cell phone.

I missed most of the MySociety talks and regretted it… they’re amazing and also are nice

I liked S.G, D.G, and L. and J. right away but most people are (surprise) reserved. Some people assumed I was not techie and was just “there with D.” like some sort of fangirl escort, so that I was kind of ticked off — was it not enough that I drip with computer equipment – and work in a startup and have been a computer nerd since 1980 just like the rest of geekdom – instead, often, condescending small talk about Travel while the rest of people in a group are talking about dorky computer stuff and gossiping about icann. I also had the problem at the conference of, whenever I’d wander up to people who I’d vaguely met, they’d leap to open the door for me assuming that I needed help to leave the room, when… actually… I was just coming up to hang out and talk. So it was nice to hide a while in the corner gossiping with cdent and recharging my batteries. But, all that was minor compared to the people who were interesting and friendly.

Actually the polite small talk about Travel (while puzzling as I never would whip that sort of thing out to someone from out of town who worked in my field who I met at a conference in SF) was far preferable to the open and obnoxious condescension from what’s her name at the first thing I was at who after an entire dinner of me interestedly listening to (and sometimes commenting on) their talk of points of international law and the net, turned to me over dessert and said with a pitying smile “You must be SO CONFUSED by ALL THIS TALK.” Oh!!! I could have smacked her! I thought of the million times I read Quilty’s million-million page white paper on ISPs – and all the times I have had useful things to contribute to discussions that are out of my depth – and when they’ve been appreciated – and coldly analyzed this person’s little gambit, realizing how many times *she* must have heard it in her career and lifetime – her loss that she chooses to apply it to other women.

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Thoughts on Budapest

Not like I’ve seen any of it but the airport and the hotel!

Hungarian food is goddamned delicious! It’s the best ever! The little pastries even beat the Belgium pastries!

There are billboards like crazy. It could have been Houston, getting off the plane. I noticed advertisements in London were oddly restrained and dorky. Brussels… what advertisements? Other than Antiquities and snooty-looking fashion and billboards for the opera I did not see any evidence of popular culture or the hopes and dreams and chains of regular people. But, the billboards in Budapest were all full of people bursting out of reality, leaping in the air in gravity-defying ways, living it up at water parks or wild with laughter and romance. The billboards were all along the highway next to row after row of identical enormous concrete block apartments stretching as far as I could see. The billboards seemed perhaps related to the feeling of wanting to escape, wanting some wildness, having the ability to get out of the concrete block. There was plenty of graffiti. It’s scruffy like Beijing but not so full of earnest and callous Industriousness. A lot of women on the street have dyed bright red and purple hair.

I am happily ensconced in my swank hotel (Novotel Centrum) which is lovely & perfectly accessible.

I might go venture out by myself if I can’t wake up Zond-7.

I blogged a bit of the conference and have notes on later panels but then I conked out completely, took a nap, had a bath, read Iain Banks, worked, slept again. I am walking okay, in fact I feel like I could walk a few blocks as I did yesterday with no problem, but my legs hurt a lot and I have the burning and buzzing down into both feet. So, I want to go out to see the city, and yet lying down for a while longer would help my legs feel a little more normal.

I’m sad that I won’t see more – it is beautiful and interesting and jumbledy here

I have been feeling really grateful for my in-between-ness and ability to get around and yet also frustrated & impatient at not just being all the way better. It’s hard because, what would you rather do, walk 5 blocks painfully and not be sure you could continue on with people going somewhere, or just give up and wheel… thus being set apart and judged and also an annoyance and yet freed to go as far as you want to go…

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Thoughts on the geography & economics of cyberspace from the Brussels airport

I noted the shapes of houses as soon as we crossed from France to Belgium. Houses even built alone in the middle of a field go straight up in a narrow box shape, like a brick stood on end, and a pointy roof, as if built into an invisible row of narrow box townhouses crammed together. I wondered if they had been in a row over the years and fire, age, or war destroyed the others? Or is it the function of laws and the accepted size of a single plot of land and house footprint? Or style detached now from any of those things so that if you built a house in the middle of a field, it would be that obelisk shape like a slice of cake standing alone?

I noted in my 4am haze on the way to the airport that there were not many billboards. Our notions of wasted space, bare space, unused, *needing* colonization and exploitation. Once you start painting “Chew Mailpouch” on the side of barns and slotting tiny ads into parking meters, every informationless space is an opportunity. Our rush to ad-driven web is such a colonization. We don’t put ads in the margins of books – but we do in magazines, which are replacing the book. Cyberspace was thought of by Gibson & Sterling early on as a sort of cave that paralleled our reality but underneath it or outside of it, using stuff it internally knew to build models of corporations, people, geographies, wealth and power. Relationships were not modelled that I can think of, other than as the flow of money – or were they modelled as information flow as well? But when I look at the world I am seeing it with *missing information*, missing overlays as in Spook Country or Stross’s Halting State, with not just facts and advertisements but game systems and fiction, enhancements to objects and thus to geography. Already I notice that my own geography differs from other people in that (as Zond-7 and I just did) I head for a power outlet or a wifi hot spot, rather than a chair and a window. We compete with other little technocratic foraminifera for the most mineral-rich spot in our ocean, detecting currents invisible or unimportant to our fellow travellers.

As I consider information-rich areas as somehow attractive or nutritious I think of windows again, or televisions, or paintings and art.

The “wasteland” idea I was talking about in my last post: we invent the idea of wasteland or uncolonized space, as with Patagonia or Antarctica or “The West” or Mars, areas that are occupied in one way or another but that by circumscription of language can be made empty. I was thinking of this as I looked at the cultivated fields next to the strips of land (waste land) alongside the railway (and that exists also along highways) and wondered that it is not under cultivation. That ecological niche costs too much to exploit, it has a particular transaction cost and the economy is such that it is not “worth it” to produce goods from the strips of land. Then i thought of the fire prevention goats in my county, a flock of goats which is herded from area to area to eat the underbrush in dry weather, entire fields of thorns, weeds, tall bristly grasses. In an area where people keep goats in order to survive, the roadside and “vacant” area weeds would be a hot commodity. In ours, the county actually pays someone to feed their goats. The roadside could grow hay mowed and sold, or it could be mowed and composted (which perhaps it already is). The amount of things that it is less expensive to *throw away* than to use boggles my mind and seems inherently wrong. So I looked at the side of the road and thought “why isn’t it being used?” and then realized that no — the weeds provide seeds to birds, habitat for insects, unpaved surface for rain to return filtered to groundwater reserves, and other benefits I can’t think or or see and which in fact drive me crazy when I see pointlessly concreted-over areas next to streams, where there could be useful weeds. When I was 17 or 18 I used to glue or wheat-paste little posters with poetry and stories on them onto parking meters, bus stops, bathroom stalls, or any places where people seemed to be waiting or liminal or stuck, as “OccuPations of Uninhabited Space” , OPUS for short, named after Takver’s mobiles in The Left Hand of Darkness, as an attempt to counteract the information colonization by advertisements with a different kind of information — the encrypted information, the steganography of fiction and poetry. My colonizations were invasive, were graffiti, were wrong, in a way that paid advertisements were not. Easy construction of web pages have made more space, more territory, for all of our information-emitting habits, our billboards to the future, our overlay of stories. I knew the instant I saw Mosaic for the first time that there would be enormous attention grabbing flashing colored advertisements not just colonizing the screen space of our machines but the internal landscape of our attention. A certain kind of space would be created in us that was not there before, for the organization and absorption of information.

Thus, the way it is “wrong” or colonialist/imperialist to look at the Patagonian landscape or a small town by quiet river and seeing it as empty and unused, full of potential, or misused, unfertilized (coded female and in need of impregnation) because not full of industry, mills, factories, garbage dumps, bustling workers and trains and tourists — in that same way I would question our assumption that “the Internet” is an empty space with infinite ecological niches waiting (yearning!) to be discovered and exploited. What we are seeing as “the Internet” while obviously a real thing is also an idea and a geography. I thought of the roadside weeds, the in-theory-valuable growing power or living-space of the land by the train tracks, and the way that pay-for-recycling created paying work for people collecting cans and bottles from trash, and speculated that “there should be” a movement to find and expose and create infrastructures for people to step in and use tech tools to create entire economic niches. A way to use web tools to lower the transaction costs, for those flocks of goats or the opportunity to publish books on the seat backs of buses. I thought of couchsurfing.com, and the site that lets people register the fruit trees in their suburban yards, to get rid of a surplus of plums, lemons, apricots. There *are* many such niches. But is this approach doing harm in some way? We might say of course not as “the Internet” does not have previous inhabitants to be damaged or ecosystems destroyed but it is the potential I wonder about and what avenues become narrowed as we barrel down these particular highways. For example, everyone wants to publish a book. They have photocopiers, they have paper and pens, why don’t they publish it in the sense of making it public by pasting it up on the wall somewhere public? It is not just the ambition of making it big and “publishing” 50,000 copies of that book because of the ways poets jockey and shark for their little 200-run letterpress hoo-ha dumpster-fillers or space-taker-uppers unread on their friends’ shelves. It is also because of property rights; it would be illegal for me to paste up my novel’s pages on the wall of the train station, even though it wouldn’t be particularly offensive, it might entertain people waiting in line, it might be aesthetically just as pleasing or unpleasing as the bare wall. As we colonize our vacant planet of Internet we have to watch out for the pressures that then make every space owned, even potential space (consider domain names).

Okay. I’m ready for my overlay implants now.

Onward to Budapest!

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Somewhere in the air over Greenland in the middle of the night

As we took off and flew over San Francisco Bay, Oakland, the sharp line of yellow hills and maze of rivers, I felt a sort of agony that we can’t just leap up in the air and fly around. From above the world seems quick & beautiful and it’s simple to be first in one place, then in another. We’d remember all the possibilities around us. Why don’t we have anti-gravity! It’s so sad.

Somewhere over Colorado I was in agony again that we don’t have cities in the clouds and in space. Cathedral anvils! We should be zipping around them! Floating cities in layers, all over the place, with hanging gardens and impossible crystal palaces!

I had secret chocolate stashed away as a surprise and Zond-7 had downloaded the latest Dr. Who episode and brought a y-connector for our headphones so we could both hear it!

I messed around with eeebuntu some more on my eeepc. It’s been a while that I’ve been itching to play around with Hardy Heron. I like it and am looking forward to customizing it and really merging with my little machine so that I work smoothly on it.

I’m listening to “Disco” by The Butchies, a little delirious!

Now going back in time to this morning, I was too scattered still to be that ideal mom and partner I had thought I would have time to be but have not been for a while. I miss Rook and Moomin already. Moomin was so awesome with his friend Dragonboy . They both had really big stuffed animal snakes and were running around with them, and were playing Godzillas.

A new song… “Rocketship” by Shiny Toy Guns fits my mood, with its countdowns, gay dance club energy, and cheesy sentimental lyrics.

I came back from the bathroom at the airport gate to find Zond-7 lying on his back with his head on a heap of bags, laptop propped up on his chest, industrious and casual looking, surrounded by stuff like a funny little pack rat, in torn jeans and a tshirt and a suit jacket. It was so exactly what I do in an airport that I burst out laughing. As I joined him he remarked that we would look as if we both fell out of the wheelchair. It was very cosy there in the middle of all the airport people in our little world on the floor with computers and conversation. I told him about the totally insane blogs that I had seen all about packing one’s suitcase and travel, and the woman who declared exactly what one should and should not wear on an airplane with amazing snootiness as if there were some reason to all dress like bank tellers while riding in a damned airborne cattle car. As far as I could tell it boiled down to a whole lot of outrage over flip-flops. Who knew? I have never in my life thought of flip-flops as actively OFFENSIVE. We looked around at a crowd getting off a plane from Dallas. About 2/3 of those people were wearing flip flops. Horrors? Ahahahah! We tried to spot someone, anyone, dressed with the philosophy of this one blogger (who I’ll link to when I have net again, but she’s linked off Rose’s comment in an entry on Badgermama), and saw maybe one woman but then realized she worked at the airport, and then a bit later one guy who was so overdressed in casually draped scarf and white sunglasses that he was clearly a gay supermodel. Everyone else was in sweatpants, and jeans and regular-person clothes.

Our flight was delayed, we missed the connection, but lucked out and got onto the next flight to Heathrow which was boarding immediately. I had been rebooked magically I guess from special cripple-fu. They put Zond-7 first on standby when it got to our turn in line I think also from travelling-with-a-cripple-fu. The flight attendants got us seats together with a bit of embarrassing fuss… It wasn’t even really that stressful. I was in pain by that time but popped a vicodin as soon as I was sure we were staying on the plane.

The book I have to read, “Out” by Natsuo Kirino, is so annoying I’m not going to finish it! It seemed gruesome yet promising but I really don’t like where it’s going with the positioning of the rapist-murderer guy as the detective hero. I realize none of the characters are supposed to be likeable or ethical, and was able to read about the group of women chopping up the one dude’s body which was quite perturbing but, I could deal. But the internal monologue of the rapist & torturer was too much for me to handle. I also was very annoyed at the normalization of rape — the rapist at the factory is described by the women as a “pervert” and the narrator shows us that they are sort of turned on by the whole idea and were flattered or felt lucky to be harassed or in fear. So, that was beyond annoying to me. I could see it was heading towards a climactic rape-torture scene of the main female character. It is just the sort of incredibly annoying book they would make a big action movie out of.

I enjoyed the Dr. Who episode, “Turn Left”…

Minor SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

I have not seen all that many episodes of Dr. Who so I don’t have a lot of context or background. I enjoy nearly every episode I’ve seen, old or new!

In this one my criticism is that Donna is set up to be all Special but her agency is undermined. (Denial of Agency!) She does something, but doesn’t know what she’s doing or why, and then doesn’t remember it. She remembers little pieces, but doesn’t know what they mean!

I liked Donna though and her bravery and attitude.

Did you notice how the monster is mostly unseen, but that makes it all the more creepy?

So, nearly passes Bechdel test, but didn’t, because if you think about it Donna talks to the fortune teller (but about the Doctor, or because of him) and then with her mother (about Donna’s hypothetical desire to meet a man) and then with Rose (about the Doctor, again).

While I noticed those things I still liked the story and it made me want to go back to see all the episodes I’d missed that it was referencing.

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Robot dinosaurs and videos of books

Yesterday I worked all day and did housework and pulled things together for Saturday and packed a bag for Moomin. We had a minor crisis at the last minute before taking Rook to the airport – his bank card didn’t work – but we made it to the bank and got that fixed and got him to the plane on time. He is off to Finland! Then … traffic like hell and picked up Zond-7 at work.

Moomin spent a long while playing with the flip video camera. I found him reading a whole book into it, pointing the camera at the words and pictures, reading with extra careful expression & emphasis. There’s one that only his grandma Hemulen will watch all the way through… that kid needs a blog for his lolcats and videos (and powerpoints!)

The morning was busy but very nice.

After most of the afternoon napping we all went back to the park – with the roommate’s giant dog – and it was pretty glorious lying in the sun. I like to lie in the grass in a park and look at people, and smell the charcoal smoke of their cookouts, and feel the sun. There is something about little kids running around in fields of tiny daisies. Also… the merry go round… I don’t mean the kind with horses and music but the small kid-sized kid-powered 70s kind made out of recycled metal, shaped like a UFO, with bars sticking out to hang onto – kids falling off and laughing and scuffling in the sand – at one point Moomin was cracking me up with his crazy poses, sitting in the very center of the merry go round pulling finger-guns and ninja stances, and his face all lit up beautifully with the triumphant joy of having got into the middle.

By the way I am totally in love with the little robot dinosaur. It gazes lovingly at you! It *purrs*. It nuzzles you and falls asleep in your lap or in bed next to you. Fucking amazing. You really start to feel like you don’t want to hurt its feelings, and then you kick yourself in the pants because you remember it’s a ROBOT. But, effectively, it has feelings, until you flip its off switch. I thought it would be nasty and stupid like a furby! It wasn’t!

pleo nuzzling olpc

More resting, more cleaning, more playing, more putting-new-things-together, more cooking, more long cuddly bedtime, and I’m so done! With! Today! Omg! It was so nice, but so exhausting.

Tomorrow a bit more running around like mad, drop Zond-7 off at the airport. Then Moomin and I are on our own for a week and a half. I think we will be as peaceful as possible and not go anywhere further than the library, till visiting Minnie on Thursday. This week, I need to do some stuff for work that needs good concentration (and thus lots of rest). While I’m working part time I also need to be sending out writing – I am sending out some of the backlog of translations and poems, with olivia_circe’s help. And, in practical terms for my daily life, that means that for example on a day I want to do anything significant intellectually I can’t do errands or go grocery shopping or try to go back to physical therapy.

Heavily edited, the brain dump is elswhere. My biographers will enjoy this, I’m sure.

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Blobbing some more

Hey y’all! I’m having a pajama weekend. There have been remote control “Mosquito” mini-helicopters, and endless Art Projects. We saw a wounded raccoon, we hot tubbed, we made LOLcats; we are wearing dragon and cheetah suits.

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

porcu-beaver, by Peanut
A porcu-beaver, drawing by Peanut

Later in the afternoon we are off to the Newhark aquatic center where there’s a “lazy river” indoors. Will I go down a water slide? Can I go there and be boring grownup who doesn’t want to swim in the little kid pee pool?

Rook and Zond-7 and I watched the first bits of Season 2 of The Wire last night. It was really really really great. I spent hours reading the episode guides to season 1 on Wikipedia, tentatively wiki gnoming them for typos, bad spelling, and nitpicky factual errors.

I made more amazing chicken and dumpling stew, because I wanted it but also to show it off to Zond-7. He is very satisfying to cook for – super appreciative. His eyes pretty much roll back in his head. It is the same if you offer him a q-tip unexpectedly.

We have had Peanut over a lot this weekend, which was interesting. She’s getting to be a Big Kid.

State of the legs: I am walking around fairly well for short distances. Around the house I do very well as long as I rest a lot in between. I still can’t go a full day like I could while I was able. Instead, I have to make sure I have some rest periods that are not only off my feet, but also not-stressed.

It is a little scary as I push my boundaries.

Yesterday I came down the stairs from Zond-7′s house and only hung onto the handrail. I didn’t use the crutches. I had them in hand, but didn’t lean on them for about half a block. Then, I started to need them. We went up a slight incline into the park and into the grass. Grass, sand, any uneven ground, is about 10 times harder than level sidewalks.

Just now, I got ready NOT on crutches, finding my backpack and wallet and shoes. I got to the car, drove 2 blocks to the Old Navvy, walked in slowly on crutches (by this time, hurting and tired), got a little kid bathing suit (so, all the way in the far end of the store), paid for it (luckily only 1 person ahead in line) and walked back out to my car. After that, I need to lie down a while for real. My legs and back and hip hurt from it. There is the stripe of pain, & also exhaustion and cramping. I feel a little like crying. It would have been easier in the wheelchair.

Even at best with walking, I am still limping (right side from the back/hip).

But you see though what huge progress that is? That I can *do* it at all and not pay for it with hours or days of pain?

Now I am truly back to where I was in September or mid-October.

I predict there will be some mild ups and downs, but I could be mostly out of the chair by summer. In the 90s, walking increased slowly and I got stronger and braver over about a year. Museums, zoos, big stores and malls, airports, that sort of thing, were the last frontier for wheelchair use, probably for about another year or two. It will be a little rough but I’m very happy to project this kind of progress.

Worst case, whatever it is will surge back and I go back to my leg buckling uncontrollably under me, dual swollen-knee troubles, and/or the sort of nerve pain that means a car ride is hell… I hope not… What a relief to be out of that territory for now.

io9 is particularly good this week. I’d like to see this movie: I’m a Cyborg and that’s okay.

I’m ready this week to think about translation and about Perl and Python. And at least one PT session in the warm pool.

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Wheelchair in the house

All the effort I have put into learning to keep the floor clear has paid off. I used to be way more of a slob and just kick a path through ankle-deep piles of books, papers, and dishes. But last night I came home to realize there was no way I could manage just on crutches. My neighbor brought the wheelchair in. I guess it’s time to go online and buy one of those folding metal ramp things for the one stair up to my house.

I laid in bed gratefully for a while just happy to be home, and warm, and on Vicodin. I chatted on IM and watched amazing music videos all evening. Zond-7 had a cold and also child care complexities and so we figured he could come tomorrow at some point and I would ask other people for help if I needed it.

I realized then that I was back in the realm of it being difficult to get food and eat. I could get to the kitchen maybe on crutches, and carry back bread and cheese and gnaw it in my bed like a rat. Not appealing. But then, I remembered my robot arm, a 3 foot grabber-reacher arm extender thingie like a thin metal claw with a squeeze handle.

So! Coping time! I felt proud yet sort of pathetic as I robot-armed a mug down from a high shelf. I filled the teapot — the sink was too high but I could manage — and the stove is very accessible. It was one of the things that made me thrill to our house when we first got it. The stove top is lower than regular ones, and pulls out to overhang the floor. So I can wheel right up to it especially if I swing back the quick release footrest.

OH… which reminds me, I figured out a thing about flying. My wheelchair must sometimes take a long time for the crew to bring up, because it only has one footrest! And they freak out and think that one is lost, and so they delay and hunt around looking for it, afraid to face my wrath. OMG! It explains a lot. I was glad to figure it out and that the crew explained why it was like 20 minutes before my chair came up from the belly of the plane to the jetway. I will label the bottom of the chair, maybe, to say “no footrest on this side”, or have a special tag that explains.

So, I got myself hot tea, and microwaved and toasted a frozen vegetarian pot pie, and managedto get it all back onto my bed and then Zond-7 showed up! It was a nice surprise that he came down on the train. So, I got help with dinner, and cookies, and a really good massage, and a lot of validation and niceness, and he ran my bath and then sat and talked with me cheerily in the bath. He watched my music videos and showed me videos and explanations of the smallest radio in the world made of carbon nanotubes.

Meanwhile, Rook’s portland babysitter cancelled at the last minute. She had called me in the airport to say something I didn’t quite fathom about how she would really like it if I could meet her in the hotel lobby, and god knows what incoherent drugged explanation I gave but I told her to arrange with Rook. She called him and he rescheduled it all a couple of hours back (possibly unwisely since that is her pay and her schedule that I ahd arranged) and then an hour before hand she called and cancelled. Without being clear if it was cancelling the whole weekend. I suspect she got creeped out — going to a HOTEL! To a strange Man’s HOTEL ROOM! OMG! Or what… And my suspicious story about flying home suddenly and probably I mentioned that I was ON DRUGS. Wouldn’t you be creeped out too? Oh well. I reposted on the sitter bulletin board site, and wrote to more people off craigslist.

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I hate the TSA, I love comic books, and home is a beautiful place

Rook persuaded me to go home and so I spent the morning mildly drugged and with Rachel Edidin who was so awesome at Wiscon and got me to be one of the Birds of Prey, and who writes for Girl Wonder. Rachel took us all around Dark Horse, where she works as an editor. Moomin liked the giant statue of Concrete a lot and I am sure now he’ll want to read about Concrete. The first dude we talked with gave us a cool hardback book of Tarzan comics, the ones by Joe Kubert. Moomin opened, started reading, and then just folded up and sat down in the hallway where he had been standing. It was very awesome looking because he was so small and so engrossed. My son, let me show you him:

stopped cold in tracks by comic book

See? Really awesome. It just makes my heart flop around like crazy in an AWWWWWW sort of way. How lucky we are…

I feel like a good, or at least competent, parent again.

So, we toured all around and I met a zillion amazingly cool-seeming people whose offices are all decorated with comix posters and action figures and books and fun stuff. And did I mention all the people were super nice, and loaded us with free books and comic books and stickers and keychains and buttons? And there were lots of cool women working there. I mean, I’m sure it’s like working in any small publishing job where the pay might be a bit sketchy and yet, there are amazing benefits to working there

Rachel drove us back to Hell Hotel, where we ordered some food and ended up eating it in the car on the way to the airport. I was so relieved to be going home. And so grateful for the ride. Thanks Rachel! I wish I were more “on” and sparkly and talky and all that. But I just wasn’t… I was in that barely hanging onto reality place, where you go when you’re in a lot of pain. I know Rachel understands this from her own experience and was cutting me a lot of slack.

I will miss Rook and Moomin and I feel guilty for not being able to pull it together to stay and be cheery and family-ish. And I had looked forward to being in a bunch of games with zdashamber, because she rocks… Yet it’s so much better to be home.

The nicest thing about friends, and this morning, is that friends fix everything wrong. Rachel does not know it but she cured me of feeling full of bitter hate. Not with the 50 lbs of free comic books but with just basic human decency.

Rook too of course. He was a glorious force-field of reality-warping goodness.

The Portland airport was easy to get around, very small really; I got my ticket and to security in like 5 minutes. Then, the TSA gave me shit because my drivers license had expired. I forgot about this and if I’d remembered could have brought my passport. And I have a current license, but lost my wallet and then used my old expired license figuring I will go back to the DMV soon, and then haven’t had time, and then forgot I had to do it. Soooo… it was super dumb, because an expired drivers license is still perfectly valid ID. The only reason it expires is to make you go back to the DMV to check your vision and if you are still competent to drive, or something. It’s not like the ID-ness of it expires! There is your photo! Still very you-like! But the TSA is too dumb to realize that. And so put me down as having NO ID. Which also is no big deal and just means you go in a different line, which as a crippled person I do anyway, and they frisk you extra (which they do anyway since I’m crippled, naturally) and search my bag by hand.

SO. Here is my little irate-customer fight with the TSA. Because what more fun thing could I do high on Vicodin and nearly crying with the jabs of pain and fire pulsing down my shattered tibial nerve, and my zombie leg spasming like a dying eel?

As I was being frisked by the well intentioned but clueless TSA frisking lady, who was named something like Paula 56234 or Denise 52342, bag-searching guy yelled from maybe 10 feet away, “HEY! Does she have her boarding pass?” I looked up from where Paula 56234 was shoving the backs of her hands uncomfortably between my ass cheeks and the wheelchair cushion, waved, and said snappily with a bitchy-polite smile, “Hey man! You can ask me directly, I’m a human being right in front of you, and I can hear!” The bag-searching guy walked over with a menacing cop swagger. His name was something like Robert 56965. (I have to find the little piece of paper where I wrote down his badge number, but he was definitely a Robert; an older man with a grey mustache.) Robert 56965 got right up in my face, considerately bending down to my level. Robert 56965 then yelled at me like he was my dad and I was a bad teenager. He let me know that there was no cal for me to be rude. And that I would learn, and he would teach me, that I should “keep my mouth shut” and “not butt into conversations that were not addressed to me”.

I am a crippled girl with purple hair, travelling alone in a wheelchair carrying a backpack and balancing my sticker covered crutches between my legs. I yell at hotel managers. I have a job. I am the media. I go to Beijing. And I just got a lot of free comic books because of powerful geek girl solidarity. I’ve already been a giant entitled bitch about a hundred times on this trip. Do you think I am afraid of being arrested and thrown in fucking jail by the likes of Robert 56965?

No. I am not.

Well maybe a little. But, fuck it.

I might have flipped off Robert 56965 when he turned his back and the frisking lady definitely saw that and smothered a giggle.

So then when frisking was over, I explained to Robert 56965 that he should address me directly and that it was rude not to and that it is well known to be offensive to disabled people to talk to the person next to them using the 3rd person to talk about them as if they could not hear or understand. He refused to answer me and instead directed many sarcastic comments to Paula 56234. I whipped out my own Sarcastro superpowers and began to critique Robert 56965 to Paula 56234 while he searched my bag and swabbed my digital camera and my extra laptop battery and my toothpaste as if they might be super secret dangerous hi-tech crippled bitch weaponry. “Maybe you can let ROBERT 56965 KNOW in your SPECIAL LANGUAGE THAT ONLY YOU SHARE that I do not mind how much he searches my bag and that I would like to SPEAK TO HIS SUPERVISOR who maybe just maybe will know MY special human-being language.” Oh, poor Paula 56234!!!

Robert 56965′s supervisor came over and in front of Robert 56965 I told the supervisor that it was not right and that some people have issues because of people looking a little bit different. And that that was not acceptable. And that I would be complaining to the TSA with everyone’s badge numbers. I explained very politely and coherently that when a person points OUT that someone is being rude, that rude person might then get defensive and hostile. And that as a disabled person I am very familiar with people who thoughtlessly speak not to me but to the person next to me, and I try to point it out on the spot when it happens. Etcetera. The flak-catcher nodded and put on a Very Serious Listening Face and said nothing-ish things and I took the comment card and left.

Oh, glorious mocha, and nice lady in the waiting area who had been in China and talked with me about the Great Firewall, and perfectly nice seat-mate on the plane who was a real estate developer who worked on the California Academy of Sciences and is now proposing to build the Disney Family Museum complex in the Presidio and who listened to me talk about wikis, thank you for making me feel human again and helping me not burst into tears and cry all the way home.

I didn’t, and I am now home, and the nice taxi driver helped me load up all my crap back onto the chair and then my housemate the Pilot brought in my chair and the mail and my backpack and the exciting packages from Amazon that had come in my absence, and talked with me to make sure I was okay alone, and brought me a soda.

I am very happy to be home in my own bed.

I’m so happy to be in a place where I can go to the bathroom without being on public display and without going through many heavy doors. I still can’t put any weight at all on my right leg. But I can crutch myself like 8 feet away to the small bathroom. I have internet from bed and I have my cell phone, so I am very comfortable and happy considering my leg doesn’t work and hurts a lot. Later… a hot bath. Zond-7 has a cold and an uncertain kid-pickup-schedule so he might not be able to rescue me from alone-ness without herculean effort. But he will come tomorrow. If I need help tonight there are tons of people I can call.

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