Posts Tagged ‘cafe’

On being uptight

If you are the sort of person who prides yourself on not being uptight then it’s a shock to realize the ways you’ve totally got a stick up your butt and in fact, are completely insane. For me it was just a few years ago when I realized that certain unreasonable things drove me up the wall.

Pre-expedition dawdling

One was planning to go somewhere on a big trip like to the beach or out shopping or to an event with other people and them not being ready, dawdling, not having gas in the car, suddenly deciding it was a great time to clip their toenails, etc. That makes me insane! Be ready! Lay everything out beforehand! I am like a general of an army for a week beforehand thinking of all the small things that must be accomplished to lay the ground for an expedition to the beach. 10am the morning of the beach trip is not the time to check your oil, buy sun screen, stop to pick up a sandwich, etc etc OMG! There should be no fuss! No! Fussing! Now, I try to endure with patience and be adaptable if there is an oversight but if I can see that dawdling and faffing is the order of the day, I have to re-imagine everything properly in my head in order to stay sane. (“Sane”.)

Expedition mealtime “surprise”

Another one is eating food in museums and amusement parks. If you are only going to be in a museum for like 2 hours why are you spending 45 minutes of that in a claustrophobic loud horrible plastic generic cafetorium eating a 12 dollar wilty lettuced sandwich? Fuck me! Eat beforehand! You know you have to eat, plan for it! Eat some crackers from your backpack, drink from the water fountain, and suck it up till you get home. It is not so much about the money or being thrifty. It’s that it’s a totally crappy atmosphere. I have geared up my finest receptor and sensory and analysis modules to have an Experience, my input dials are maxed out, and now I’m in a Denny’s. Aaaaaaaa!

The Balance of the Universe, in my mouth

Another — you see what I mean, I find as I get older there are either more and more of these uptightnesses, or I’m more self-aware — is about the way of eating food. This one is probably very common on I sort of mentally portion out my food so it is balanced all around and I like it to come out even. Yes! Neurotic! The other day, Rook brought a sandwich at work, with the extra pickle I asked for (yay) and … It’s so hard to explain. It was a lovely sandwich that I had increased the pleasure of by having looked forward to it all morning. As if from my little officey world of withered grey cubicles I had pinned all my shining hopes on this delicious Sandwich With Pickle. The pickle was in 2 halves. Of course, half the pickle for one half of the sandwich and the other half for the other. RIGHT??? Well just as I came to the end of the first half Rook casually picked up the pickle and went to take a giant 6-foot-tall-guy-bite out of it. I squawked like a motherfucking cockatoo. Hello, this is a man who can put his entire fist into his mouth. PUT DOWN THAT PICKLE.

The next second I fell over myself trying to assess whether it was his lovely expectation that that was his pickle and plus trying to suppress any selfishness and at least allot him half if not handing over the whole thing. (While still internally shrieking OMG if you wanted one, why didn’t you get your own!) And re-imagining my sandwich trying to still see it as glorious rather than a sad tarnished wistful wrong-ish half-sandwich-without-its-rightful-flavor.

As I thought over my own uptightness and yet, adaptability and willingness to hand over MY HALF OF MY FOOD, I realized the key to my being able to adapt like a normal human being is in imagining-out. If I can pause for a moment and imagine out the alternate future to the one I had already prepared myself for, then I’m all good and right with the world again and can be a gracious person. If not, then I’m stuck in being a surly petty bitch. So for example on going to the beach if I see that things aren’t happening as I wished then I make a new plan to go outside and mess around in the garden (the key thing here is avoiding the deadly feeling of waiting for other people.)

I told my sister Minnie the pickle story to make her laugh because she’s exactly the same way. If she had olives, she would have an unconscious awareness of portioning out the olive to sandwich consumption ratio and I would never presume to perturb that balance in mid sandwich. Am I right??? This is possibly part of our crucial sister telepathy (which has decreased as we get older but is still there.) Doubly so, perhaps, for bacon and pancakes. There is a special circle of hell for bacon-stealers.

These things are the minor things; the actual ways I’m actually uptight I can’t tell you because I’m too freaked out by them to talk about them, like phobias. Before any talking about it happens, denial hits and I veer off onto some other subject for the sake of self-preservation.

The thing about this way of thinking is that normally it works very well. I keenly enjoy the pleasures of the imaginary becoming real and I have a great time and am full of enthusiasms, major and minor.

My thoughts at lunch

My favorite sandwich shop in town is incredibly fast and has the sort of sandwiches my mom or sister might make for me or that I’d make for myself. They’re just… normal sandwiches. I just had a turkey and swiss with red bell pepper and hot mustard. It is no small feat to make a normal sandwich in a deli. Somehow. I don’t get why. You would not think it’s a thing that could be ruined. But think of the really disgusting sandwiches you’ve encountered in your life! Yes! It is possible to ruin a simple turkey and cheese sandwich!

The deal is, every time I’m in this deli I have a mind boggling moment of wondering why the whole place is done up in Old West decor? It’s got wagon wheels, washboards, old sacks, jangly old spurs, signs, sayings, photos, etc. But the rest of the decor is straight up “regular old sandwich shop” and in fact is overly generic, like the menus and wall signs make me think of a Denny’s or a Baker’s Square or something extremely dull, even though there are maybe 20 of this particular deli chain. The only nod to the Gold Rush theme in this signage is a faintly old-timey font. What’s the deal? Is the eponymous “Erik” who owns or owned the deli, a descendant of some famous local Gold Rush participant? Did someone have a weird marketing brainwave? Is it a spinoff from the nearby Fry’s that has an old west theme? Is it someone else’s BBQ restaurant that got bought and repurposed? Because when I think “whole grain sandwich with sprouts and avocado on it” I do not think “yippee ti yay”. DOES NOT COMPUTE.

Go west, young vegan, go west! That’s where the veggies are best!

My theory is that the deli owner just really likes old west junk and goes to a lot of flea markets. So they can feed their junk shop hobby and count it as a business expense on their taxes! I imagine this all out, but have not tried to look it up or find out because I don’t want to ruin my little daydream or the strange mystery of it all.

Next up I should blog my other favorite sandwich shop, Mr. Pickles in the Mission in SF. The history channel watching opportunities are good there, and the sandwiches scary awesome.

Geek out at BlogHer Boston and DC

This weekend I’m flying out to Boston and DC for two BlogHer conferences. I can’t wait to meet new people and the women I already know! Every feminist conference I go to is super inspiring and this is one where it is totally normal to have your laptop going at all times, so at dinner there you are with 10 other chicks typing like maniacs in between the laughing our asses off, insane gossip, politics politics politics, book recommendations, and WordPress plugin tips.

erin feeling the computer love

Here’s my talk, which i will just keep on thinking of as “Quick Blog Overhaul” though it is really called “Blogging Basics: 6 Steps to Personalize, Polish & Promote Your Blog“. It will be a brief talk and then we’ll split into small groups to do the hands-on workshop stuff.

Join BlogHer’s {{Badger Hemulen}} and a team of subject-matter experts for a quick and effective blog makeover. Let’s look at your blog, whether you’ve got one post up or 100, and give it some love. Liz will explain 6 simple steps you can take to give your blog a tune-up, and then we’ll break into small groups to try out some of what you’ve learned. These 6 steps can help clarify to your readers who you are and what you write. Whether you use WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, or any other platform – you and your platform are welcome.

  • Personalize: Danielle Henderson will work with you make sure your readers know how to identify and reach you…and that you feature your community, so they can also see themselves. In addition she’ll work with you to learn how to add images, or even audio and video, to show who you are.
  • Polish: Megan Garnhum will cover the basic geeky ingredients that add up to a truly functional, findable, fabulous blog. Learn about appropriate, search-friendly hyperlinking, tagging…why and how, and even about headlines and why they matter.
  • Promote: Alissa Kriteman will help you learn how (and why) to put your post on BlogHer, Twitter, Kirtsy, Digg,, Reddit, Stumbleupon, other social sites.

  • Then there are the parties!

    I can’t help it. Women get in my lap. What can I say?

    In DC I’ll be doing the same workshop with a different set of local bloggers:

  • Personalize: Veronica “Roni” Noone will make sure your readers know how to identify and reach you…and that you feature your community, so they can also see themselves. In addition she’ll work with you to learn how to add images, or even audio and video, to show who you are.
  • Polish: Andrea Meyers (well known for Andrea’s recipes) will cover the basic geeky ingredients that add up to a truly functional, findable, fabulous blog. Learn about appropriate, search-friendly hyperlinking, tagging…why and how, and even about headlines and why they matter.
  • Promote: Kristen King will help you learn how (and why) to put your post on BlogHer, Twitter, Kirtsy, Digg,, Reddit, Stumbleupon, other social sites.

  • There will be too many awesome people there for me to name them all but I’m going to be super happy to get to hang out with Beth Kanter, Candelaria Silva, Erin Kotecki Vest, Laurie White, superfantabulous feminist geek Shireen Mitchell, and of course my friend Sarah Dopp, the BlogHer founders, and my co-workers like Kristy who are fantastic bloggers and who I see practically every day but don’t get to hang out or really talk blogging because we are WORKING WORKING WORKING.

    So, along with all that, I get to see my main partner in crime, editorial and geeky soul sister forever, Laura Quilter and my awesome brilliant ex and good friend M.M. and their new baby! You have no idea how excited I am. Actually it’s worse than that. Last time I got to be with Quilter and then had to leave I sobbed for an hour in the car. I will have to drown my sorrows after I leave their house, on Friday night in bloggity sisterhood in the Boston Burlington Marriott hotel bar.

    On Sunday I’m flying to Baltimore, renting a car, and sloping off to see my grandma on the Eastern Shore. I haven’t seen her in years or my uncle either. I got to hang out with her for about a day when Moomin was 2 or 3. Other than that it is all little cards twice a year and I usually lose her $25 check and am a very awful person and never write back. I regret not being very close with my extended family but that’s the truth of it. I think of them very fondly, but in actual practice, there is not much of a relationship.

    Then glorious Blogheristas on Monday again in DC! Or, really, Bethesda!

    On Tuesday before my plane leaves I want to go find my friend lavendertook and hang out at her funky local internet cafe and co-op – then it’s back home where I’ll collapse into a little travel-weary puddle.

    I know it is sort of boasty but I would like to say not for the first time that I am proud of myself for going on giant trips in my wheelchair and just kind of facing it down. I get unnerved sometimes. That feeling to me is a red flag that means I MUST DO WHATEVER THE THING IS. In general I’m walking pretty well, but after hours on an airplane, I won’t be and my ability to walk isn’t predictable especially with travel. Walking, who needs it? It’s more the exhaustion and being demoralized by pain that gets me. Still, consider the allure of jetting into town, renting a car, and the open road! Could go anywhere! (But probably won’t.) Now is the time!

    If you live in those areas and haven’t registered for the conferences, think about it, there’s still time, it’s only $100 for an all day conference with food and a cocktail party. & well worth it for learning stuff, meeting great people, the massive, massive hit of inspiration from hanging with other women writers and bloggers and geeks and people putting their ideals into practice, “networking”, and last but not least huge fun.

    Beautiful computers: The Difference Engine

    This weekend we all went to the Computer History Museum in Mountainview. Take a look at my photos of some of the computers if you want a little history and nostalgia! They have a working Difference Engine, one of only two in the world.

    Difference Engine

    I have added to my vague fantasy of my future bookstore/cafe/laundromat/junk shop. Now it contains a Cray:



    I remember reading about these and drooling over them when I was a kid – reading Omni or Discover or Scientific American.

    Check out the gorgeous design of the KL10. There’s something about the cool colors and the way they continue from button to casing – and the very clean font:
    KL10 buttons

    My imaginary bookstore cafe will also need a SAGE Weapons Director 2 (as directed by my friend Yatima’s daughter:

    Julia with Weapons Director 2

    Secretly … I want to be a set builder for some show like Dr. Who or Blake’s 7 and make amazing fake computers with blinky lights and complicated “futuristic” control panels!

    This stuff is so much better — being real.

    It was disappointing that the Difference Engine exhibit didn’t have any mention of Ada Lovelace. What’s the point of leaving her out? How annoying. We brought her up, and the astronomer Caroline Herschel, during the demonstration (which mentioned her brother). Then the speaker talked enthusiastically about Lovelace. So why not put some information and a photo of her? And Herschel too. Instead, we got a dumb wisecrack/excuse about how women didn’t do much math back then. (Hummm. What is the point of that? Why not mention the ones who did? Mary Somerville for example, who taught Lovelace.)

    I wish there were more working models of older computers we could actually use. I can see that it would be way too much work to maintain that, though. Inspiration for me to fire up my Mac Plus or an old Commodore 64 maybe!

    It was so glorious… I also felt like anyone else who had bothered to go to this museum was probably very cool and a kindred spirit… people were walking around grinning hugely or gawping in awe like a cathedral. (Which it is.) All those PDPs and VAXes and the IMP, and amazing calculators from 1899 or 1920 like the Millionaire and the Comptometer. The chess exhibit was good too. All the excitement of REAL AUTOMATED COMPUTERS that play chess, all the excitement and conviction that the future would be AMAZING — all came flooding back to me. I wanted to hug the IMP and just sort of commune with it and say a little prayer or something, like I felt when I saw very new lava, or the tallest tree in the world, or something else I have loved abstractly, imagined, and then seen for real.

    Please put this label in prominent place on IMP

    Pastries and sidewalks in Belgium

    New blog tagline, “History of Europe through sidewalk curb cuts and things available in cafes” since that is clearly what I’ll be writing about.

    I expected the tunnel under the British Channel to be different somehow and momentous rather than just a tunnel you barely notice even if you’re looking. It should have some flashing orange lights and enormous stripey caution signs that go “WARNING! WARNING! YOU ARE UNDER THE MOTHERFUCKING OCEAN”. Instead I thought vague thoughts about roadsides, railway right of way and land ownership, property rights, the San Mateo flock of fire prevention goats, eminent domain, ideas of waste and use and exploitation, geology, glaciers, farming, compost, and forestry. I expected somehow that Britain even by the railway would look more cultivated than the U.S. in the sense that the land has been intensively in use for farming and permanent buildings for so long. In other words that there would be not so many vacant lots and fields that don’t seem to be growing anything or providing pasture or otherwise being used by humans to produce stuff. Once we got through the tunnel, France from the train looked a bit more like that and Belgium even more so.

    I liked the train station at King’s Cross/ St. Pancras. Giant Quentin Blake cartoon on building as you pull out of the station… (or really as you pull in as it is a “welcome” message). Odd moment when train station guy came up and accosted me and began to order me around. “No… really… we’re just wandering around this mall for a couple of hours and getting lunch… if I need help I’ll find someone and ask” “NO BUT OMG YOU HAVE TO… AND… ” No actually I don’t THANKS. The hostility that comes through is amazing.

    We were in first class in the train because you’re automatically put there if you are traveling in your own wheelchair. The expectation though seemed to be for me to be fairly completely unable to do anything. (Stories later.) The train was lovely and comfortable and the food was fabulous. I did feel strongly that the model of disability and being disabled is utterly broken as there were many frail older people or people traveling with small children who could have benefitted from being in first class and having help with bags, etc. when I just would like a bit more ramps and can walk up the train steps myself and even haul my wheelchair after me if need be. So again as with the broken model of AIDS education that most people got (if you are in a “high risk” category of person etc. etc rather than “if you do X then Y”) it is about identification, instead of behavior, action, immediate situational needs. So the identity politics model works for some things and situations, but for this situation, it doesn’t. The Eurostar staff was clearly trained to see “disabled person: this is what you do” but without any thought of “ask the person what they need” or “be flexible for anyone who needs it”. It is wrong and vile to be treated as a sort of pitiable sub-elite. I notice it everywhere but more here than in the U.S.

    Hotel – steps, ugh – amusing punch-card plastic door key that I swear I saw described in some ancient back issue of 2600 magazine – room nice – so happy to nap – no wireless in room, extreme hardship – dinner with Zond-7’s Work People, at The Staff restobar (food fabulous, atmosphere perfect) talked of science fiction with G. who recommended the book “Godfather of the Kremlin”.

    Morning, Zond-7 went off to the meeting and I tried to work from the lobby (no wireless in room) but the wireless was far too slow for me to even download my 500 emails much less do web page testing or fixing and to deal with Drupal on any level at all. I set off down Avenue (?) Louise recalling various cafes. Everywhere had a lot of stairs and I can of course do stairs but it seemed daunting to do with all my paraphrenalia and then be trapped in the gravity well and I realized that while I can get into a cafe and its stairs I cannot hang out in it all day long when bathroom is even more inaccessible and just the navigation around the cafes I looked into was multi-level as well. I went a few blocks past Zond-7’s meeting building and then realized everything was uphill; tried the cafe right next to it, which was nice but impossible to deal with; gave up and went to the office and just camped out trying to be oblivious that I was weirdly crashing this meeting that had nothing to do with me. (I did not go into the actual giant meeting but I did sit on the floor in the offices outside, ate their food and used their wireless and bathroom.) Oh well! Embarrassing! But I had to! I worked all day. Went back to hotel around 4 when I was starting to fall asleep sitting up. Oh,,, uphill up the horrible curbs and sidewalks of boring diplomaticky financial districty overpriced fashion-y clothes Brussels, it was really hell! I’m sure it’s a nice city… somewhere that I wasn’t! Napped. Read and got dressed again & Zond-7 came back & we went out to dinner at Brasserie Poelaert which was a lovely spot but not really great food. Worth it for the nice spot on the patio.

    Our taxi got lost on the way there & we ended up in streets and streets of endless Antiquities and Tribal Arts and Anthropological Antiquities until I felt kind of sick to my stomach. Not like I come from anywhere that can hold its head up but, man, could you put some of Africa back where it came from maybe? OMG. Everything so reeking of wealth. The buildings I had been admiring with their amazing stone work seemed less beautiful and more signposts to colonial and capitalist horrors.

    Dinner, I mostly listened and made occasional polite conversation because it was a very Worky Dinner involving what I think of as Global Foods (which I will explain again or link back to my explanation of but it is from Doris Lessing and I use it as my marker of U.N. cosmopolitan elite) and for me not being part of that world (though in my own technocrat one in parallel, in intersection, and perhaps in competition ultimately) to be there was a perturbation. So if you think of the job of that Global Foods job as being, absorption of tremendous amounts of detailed information and synthesis of it correctly and then telling people how to act, or trying to act collectively or in coalition — it is a hard job and very thinky and talky and yet it is difficult for other people to see what the hell you are actually doing. And moments like this dinner are the moments which I see as people being like conduits for information, they are points or nodes which need to intersect and people have to talk with each other. It would be lovely to quantify and analyze and people of course do. But, I feel in those situations that it is best for me to shut up as much as possible so people can get on with talking with each other. I am also vastly entertained by cosmopolitan informational tidbit exchange ie chatter about one’s favorite restaurants in various cities and tips on jet lag and how wearying Travel is but acceptable if the hotels are of the best. (All true. But nevertheless hilarious from outside of the upper class perspective.) I did explain myself and my presence a few times and had some nice conversational moments with GH and S. and the guy from Italy who explained to me about Article somethingorother which means the govt. has to consider open source software before it buys anything and how he is helping linux groups to band together formally in a way that the government can talk with. Interesting! I told R. from Germany about the way campaign contributions are public and were mashed up so you can see who on your street gave what, with google map info. (Shock and dismay!)

    Tried to pack. Must get up and go to Budapest at 4am.

    I forgot to say about the pastries. They were astonishingly great. Those little fruit sponge cake things soaked in liqueur, wrapped around custard, with a glazed egg yolk thing on top – was it actually a whole egg yolk? It stunned me. Well, Belgium does not know how to build a ramp, or a sidewalk, or have free wireless anyfreakingwhere, but its inner city roadways are very sensible and its food utterly rocks. (Also apparently it still knows how to loot the hell out of Africa and get rich off it, as i think of not just Antiquities but of Chocolate.)

    Action movie preview rant; racism in Indiana Jones

    I went to my friend’s steampunk beach wedding with Rook and Zond-7 and all and sundry!

    there is no charge for awesome

    Aren’t they cute as hell?

    Held a giant chiton (described in post below, but here’s the photo to show how huge it was!)

    Went to RoboGames! Drove all over hell and back! Drove to Oakland and hung out with Minnie and Moomin and small Mr. Screamypants!

    I saw the Indiana Jones movie, loving it and hating it. I was steeling myself for an inevitable ancient-Harrison-Ford romance with a plucky yet needing to be rescued 24 year old actress, and indeed the movie had all the pain of Smurfette Syndrome, ie, a bunch of male characters of varying kinds and one plucky girl. BUT…. it had the saving grace of having TWO female characters. The plucky girl was older than one would expect from craptastic sexist ageist Hollywood, like actually old enough to have a young adult son, and old enough for it not to be completely stereotypically annoyingly prize-like for her to be involved with Indiana Jones. And she got to kick ass some of the time. The other female character was the totally awesome Evil Psychic Communist in uniform complete with shiny black gloves and obsession with aliens and mind control. She was okay.

    There was a really stupid and unnecessary racist bit with the …. clay-covered “naked savages” springing out of the masonry to defend the temple. Why, why, why? Why was that necessary? “Insert mob of non-white naked howling irrational people here.” What??? Why?! Covered in MUD! Wearing GRASS SKIRTS! HOWLING! I believe even ULULATING! Inexplicably kept alive for 5000 years! Fanatically DEVOTED! Mayan, yet Peruvian, yet grass skirt wearing yet wielding BOLAS! Then awe-struck, and bowing to the Artifact! Arrrgh. Rook and I sat there groaning and scoffing. Come on! More skulls, giant insects, sword fights, stone mechanisms rolling shut just a hair too late, waterfalls, yes, Racist Crap no. Anyway!

    The pulp-like “ooo mayans” and “ooo nazca lines” and “ooo now we’re in the amazon” was just funny and overblown. I didn’t even get annoyed by it like I did with the weird stuff in Emperor’s New Groove. It was so bad it was hilarious. Same with the “magnetism”!

    Back to the villain – I enjoyed the bit where


    She was going, “I WANT TO KNOW” and staring at the alien skeleton and the aliens began to beam stuff into her head! Yay! I wanted her to know! Go, Hero of the Order of Lenin! Go, psychic scientist crazy woman! My higher level analysis was that her gender was being conflated with communism and the “hive mind” of the aliens. Manliness was the independent thought and maverick status of Indiana Jones and his little rebel boy sidekick. The communist villain spoke at length about her evil plot, which was to gain enormous psychic powers so that everyone in the world’s thoughts would be like hers, they would be taught right thinking, but they wouldn’t know it wasn’t their thoughts. They’d think they were having their own ideas – but it would be communist mind control. Then, she ended up marvelling at the beauty of the alien hive mind, and merging orgasmically with it and squirting up into an interdimensional portal. You can see why I cheered. I don’t think I was meant to and instead it was meant to be punishment or comeuppance and a fit ending. I think also the idea of women in authority, in positions of equality and authority, in communist countries, was mixed up with current (and past) anxieties about feminism, PC-ness, and women’s rights, so that woman in authority = hive mind = evil.

    Onward and backward to the previews!

    The movie previews promised to be good since they would be action movies. I’m a HUGE sucker for explosions, chases, fights, and other action movie bullshit. Add space battles and I’m extra happy. So, no horrible “romantic comedy” previews I had to suffer through. Instead I got to admire the explosions, while bitching about the Smurfette Syndrome about 5 times in a row. “The Spirit” – Frank Miller movie, made fun of preview already, hilarious voiceover with superhero going “The city screams, she is my mother, she is my lover.” Sooo that makes you a motherfucker then? *sigh* So stupid! So annoying! So unnecessary! Then yet another movie about a Man having Important Man experiences with women as peripheral sex prizes (some movie about a guy living backwards in time. I would prefer they just LEAVE WOMEN COMPLETELY OUT, thanks but no thanks. Give explosions and battles, keep nasssty chips.) Hellboy which looked fucking awesome!!!! Awesome! Hello! Just great! But again, is man having his Man Moments because hollywood if in an action movie has to show how being a Man is all about heroism and heroism is all about being a man! I am so annoyed. I bet if the female characters have any good fighting moments of bravery it will be only because they are defending their man, or their dad, or their brother, or carrying out their father’s last wish, or some other annoying-ass thing whose subtext implies that women only exist in relation to men, especially when they kick ass. Then, Eagle Eye, which looked to be even more of the same. It is all about the profound experience of the lone man who in his lonely way has an Experience. Do I make myself clear, here? Why is this always the plot? It’s like the Joseph Campbell sexist as hell Hero’s Journey just mutated itself into every story possible.

    Don’t even get me STARTED on Wall-e. FFS. I mean, I want to see a fucking awesome movie about some robots. In space. Why must it get all messed up with gender stuff? Why not just put some eyelashes and lipstick on that rescue-screamy-flirty-sexy robot girl? WTF with the robot gender roles? You know, if I were a robot, I’d think the nicest bit of would be getting to be ungendered. Like we didn’t go far enough with the movie where all the ants were heterosexual male/female couples (??) and the Bee one, and the one where the (male) cattle had udders? What?

    Okay I’m glad I got that off my chest! Otherwise I had an intense few days (and nights) at work, a weekend packed with social events, I am concentrating hard on walking but it’s very hard, and Rook and I gardened a little bit, which was super nice since it’s been so neglected.

    I have been noticing how my car is like my spaceship and everywhere I go is like an expensive gravity well. Some places, like the building I work in, or a grocery store, suck you into their enormous gravity well and it is hard to achieve escape velocity. For those, I need the powerful shuttlecraft of my wheelchair. For gas stations, small cafes, and places that can be traversed easily, I can achieve escape velocity handily with only the EVA jetpack of my crutches or cane. You think I am joking about imagining that those annoying slow wheelchair lifts are the airlock? No… I’m really imagining it and enjoying it with a slightly embarrassed smile in case anyone can read my thoughts. I prefer the Belter lifestyle without going near those annoying gravity wells where I am way too heavy, give me the asteroids any day. What this means in practical reality is that I go to the Carl’s Jr. drive through a lot these days.

    My new job at you-know-freaking-where

    We last left our blog at Maker Faire and just afterwards. The weekend was so lovely I wish I had written about it in the moment. Time is slipping by me like gliding through water.

    I thought over my trip to Seattle some more and the travel coming up and I’ll write more about that soon!

    My new job is lovely but more intense than I thought it would be. CAN I STILL WRITE ABOUT THIS? Well, I will anyway! I like all the people (obviously) and it is nice to work for someone who communicates a lot and doesn’t blow me off. Time will tell…. It is also scarily like, well, this is hard to describe in a way that is tactful toward everyone including myself, but I was going for this job because I thought it would be not super intense, I could keep my head down and chug away in the corner at something not too hard, but I’d do it super well, and not be too stressed. i.e. a good job for a smart person in uncertain health. And if I happened to do anything marvellous it would be just cake and appreciated extra, but i would not have to make a Cake every day. Well instead it was like, POUNCE! We are now going to extricate every last drop of your leadership-like smarty-pants glow-in-the-dark BLOOD! Holy crap! Okay then! I shall certainly try to do that for the next few weeks. But, in working, I find I am a bit more like a horse than a mule. i.e. a mule will stop and balk. A horse will sort of keep going till it breaks and collapses! A horse doesn’t want to disappoint anyone! So I will adopt a sort of mule’s warning, and do a ton now, but will need to do something less demanding for a bit, and will be clear on my limits. What I mean is maybe the stress of power as well as mental synthesis. I have to switch back and forth between hard thinky-things and doing something more menial, or I just burn out! And can’t balance my life! This, partly because I approach with intensity, but partly, it is all much more so because of how intensely I have been processing and dealing with disability stuff.

    So, on the up side, I am pleased and flattered to be seen through, and I really enjoy getting to slurp in as much information as possible very quickly and re-evaluate several times daily as info intake continues, and keep changing plans and making stuff. What I am doing is being a systems analyst for the entire organization, but not just for systems, but for people. I’m not sure what you call that. (A “consultant” who pisses everyone off, but who doesn’t get to LEAVE.) That has always been my secret superpower! When I realized that was what I was gonna do for the next few weeks I kind of laughed with glee, because it’s fun, but also felt rueful, like “Oh shit… BUSTED” because it’s also really hard.

    Wednesday I did the walkthrough/rollthrough for the upcoming conference, and a writeup, and stil did other worky things, then finally realized I ahd not eaten, drove to Atlas Cafe for a sandwich and worked on the writeup, then to Zond-7’s where i collapsed into bed, then at maybe 8 or 9 we went to R.’s party where I got to talk with her about icelandic sagas and lots of other people about science fiction and politics.

    I thought more about hte hack ability blog, but did not work on it too much. Maybe a couple of hours.

    I wrote up a long reading-guide to Timmi’s work, for Wiscon, which you should Digg and then read, here:

    Whirlwind guide to the mindblowing work of L. Timmel Duchamp, Guest of Honor for upcoming feminist science fiction convention WisCon 32. Cyborgs, women’s relationships, surveillance, torture, interrogation, dystopia, weird aliens, critical thought, time travel, art, alternate histories; but above all, revolutionaries, resistance, and hope.

    I have another blog/web site to set up, just volunteering… first before Hack Ability.

    And, I put some finishing touches on the blog that Minnie and I are doing, Whores of Bath. It is a humorous blog about bath products and we are doing it to make money. It will soon have even more ads plastered all over it. I am particularly proud of our obnoxious, link-whoring, search-engine-honeypot, yet still freaking funny, posts on imaginary baths with nude celebrities:

    * Oh, honey! My fantasy bath with Lindsey Lohan!
    * My fantasy celebrity bath with Robert Downey Jr

    Well, gotta go, I had a half hour nap, a bloggy interlude (this one) which soothes my soul, a role playing game for the next several hours, Zond-7 is coming over, tomorrow is Recent Changes Camp (wiki unconference! come to it! in Palo Alto!) and then will drive about like a mad thing, and end up at a BBQ, so it will be another too-long day. Sunday I will need to decompress, but also, I probably need to work! ack!

    Spontaneous mini road trip

    beach day
    Originally uploaded by Liz.

    Moomin and I took the long way back from SF to home. We ate bagels at the cafe in Montara, talking about whales. He brought my bagel and his and my latte to the table and was complimented by the cafe people for helping out. It is nice to see him brace up, his proud smile, the way he says quietly, “I know. Thanks!” He told me a joke that he made up and we talked about storytelling and stand up comedy. Here is the joke:

    – What has 6 legs, works very hard, and goes “Ho ho ho?”
    – Anta Claus!

    Moss Landing was perfectly at a very low tide, but it was windy as hell. We had all kinds of extra jackets and fleeces and hats from my trunk, but the strong north wind was unbearable even in the sun, even huddled in my picnic blanket. So after a bit of tidepooling, admiring seals, and him gathering rocks-with-holes-bored-through while I lounged, we left.

    On the way back we resolved to stop at every interesting place that even MIGHT be interesting. The pony farm was rejected as too boring and babyish, even though ponies are cool. I could not really walk around and around the ring holding a pony’s halter, anyway, so that was a relief. The fruit stand and farm thrilled him strangely. He bought a peach and strawberries. The scrap metal dinosaur place, we’ve always wanted to stop at. Its statues are neat, but have some fatal flaws. You can’t climb on them, and some of them are tipped over which makes one doubt the stability of the rest of them. Considering the strong wind, I must have heaved those fucking T-Rexes off my son with heroic sudden strength in my imagination as he lay broken and bleeding, about 100 times in the 10 minutes we were at the place, and it wasn’t really a scrap metal sculpture Place but was instead a garden shop with urns and fountains.

    We discussed geology, fault, plate tectonics, how you know if a tsunami is coming, what to do, how to weave baskets out of pine needles, what it was like to be a seal or a whale, and many other topics in the car. He was not carsick at all, I think because he slept well and wasn’t bored or restless.

    I was very hobbly and unsteady – and I am exhausted – and I have been lurking in bed for several hours now while he reads from his Spiderman DVD (with all the back issues – thanks Squid!).

    I felt good that I keep living up to my promise to make up for the year of not taking him anywhere. I did it a bit over Spring Break with the gardens and museum and exploratorium – and I was super happy to take him to the beach. Even if it was too windy. It was nice to see that he believes me that I will bring him back lots in the summer. I love it when he says, “All RIGHT! You rock, Mom!” This just curls up into me and expands until I feel like I could do anything and that I have at least sometimes done something right.

    Reflections on family relationships and acceptance

    My parents were here and I have been doing a million things. I’m so tired that I’m a little bit emotionally flat.

    Physically: I’ve been walking around, but I don’t feel very confident to do more than go from my car to a cafe table. So, when I am out of the house, mostly using the wheelchair.

    I’m doing some writing, thinking about translation, looking over old stuff, and wondering where to take it. Probably there will be a series of translation posts over on Composite.

    I read Blood in the Fruit which continued the magnificence of the Marq’ssan cycle. Though I babbled all weekend about it, nothing coherent is coming so far. Certainly not tonight… exhaustion is total. But it’s good, and you should read the entire series if you like staring hard complex truths in the face and coming out okay (yet not unscathed).

    Got along sort of okay with my parents. I tried hard to not be a jerk. A lot of the time with them I was also exhausted and withdrawn. But on the last 2 days I perked up a little and talked with my them about books or politics and with my mom also about cooking, the brands of things that are best, listened to her Fashion Ideas for me which admittedly didn’t make me completely puke but which I still couldn’t deal with (i.e. that I must go to Ch1co’s or Barf-me-T4lbot’s to buy “fancy jeans” which would fit me “right” and which leg straightness style were exhaustively described). I dyed her red streak and I demonstrated how to make sugar face scrub with lemon and olive oil… I CAN HAS GIRLY SKILLZ.

    Also she kept going “I was GOING to do XYZ for you… but looks like you already have done it.” Which was satisfying. We also all went to the bookstore and next-door-cafe, and the beach. Pi11ar Po1nt has an extremely accessible path! I had remembered it as more difficult. But gravel was minimal and the dirt packed & hard, very easy to wheel down. Then, a short somewhat difficult slope and the beach right there. I crutched down it. Up was harder. I found both up & down to be very scary and next time it would be better if I hung onto a person’s arm on one side, like a handrail. It was a little hard to be at the beach and not be able to run about and dig and climb on the rocks.

    At one point we were at the cafe and my parents both were telling me perhaps pointedly of other people’s terrible divorces and how dumb they were and how divorce was a stupid idea and bad for everyone and meant that people were idiots, and divorce only justifiable if someone were like being BEATEN. I listened to this for a while and then reminded them gently that I HAD A FIRST MARRIAGE WHICH I LEFT IN A DIVORCE KTHXBAI. So then my mom shifted to talking about how sometimes people have disgusting affairs that ruin their lives and how dumb it is and how she for example would never and how pointless it would be and how she can’t even imagine why a person would either have an affair or leave their marriage for some silly attraction that would probably be over soon anyway. (Subtle!) I listened to that too and then said something like “Well, I completely disagree with that way of thinking, fundamentally, on many levels, and don’t think that having one relationship puts limits on other human relationships people can have, and I’ve always thought that and still do.”

    Then we talked about other things real quick!

    Then Zond-7 came over for dinner. Jo’s kids were also here and the Acrobat came over to tell us about his bridge made of popsicle sticks that he made at his management training seminar and brought us the bridge made of popsicle sticks that he made the week AFTER the management seminar when he got home, to bring his vision to life, and we tested the bridge with half gallon juice bottles, and the kids put on costumes and made a Clothing Shop at which we were forced to buy things. So, everything was lively and cheerful.

    E. complained to me that she could not get on the internet because her parents wouldn’t give her the password! Just as I was going O rly no really srsly and exchanging warning looks with Zond-7 as we realized we could not teach this child how to hack (it is best learned from other children who have no grown up morals) Jo came back and it was revealed that actually this is not all the way true and it is just that the wifi station has a password. Well call me gullible! I gave her the first Runaways comic books anyway and then Zond-7 later told me stories of how he and some other 12 year olds social-engineered a 12 digit password at some demo by each watching for 4 of the digits as the grown-up typed them in.

    Anyway about poly things and family, I do not want to be closeted but I also feel a bit more temperate in being in-your-face. I hope it will just become sort of accepted over time and that no one makes a big deal.

    One thing that was a big huge deal for me and made me cry was that my parents used to be super super homophobic and they did not acknowledge my relationship with my ex-girlfriend Misha when we lived together and moved to CA together. (Actually, we made each other marriage certificates, which I think of without saying anything whenever people ask me how many times I have been married. Maybe I should make her a really cool and sentimental divorce certificate several years too late.) And then for years my mom would go “Who? ” in a totally fake, fake way whenever I talked about what Misha was up to (which was frequently lovely news to be proud of). And then we had some fairly hideous fights (me and my mom) when she would say things about “gay people” being disgusting or … when I would mention other friends being pregnant … she would say things like “that’s disgusting, how could anyone DO that to an innocent child” (i.e. be queer and raise a child.) This is over 15 years, please realize. Then in the last couple of years my mom has been much more mellow about gayness and seems to have relented. Progressing from “well I don’t see whose business of anyone’s it is as long as they keep it quiet” to asking me how Dr. B or Misha are doing. Not exactly going to PFLAG meetings, but major progress, meaning a major relief to me. Well when I mentioned Misha’s pregnancy and how there was a cool wiki with pictures my mom instantly was all excited and happy and demanded to see the wiki and leave congratulations on it and she referred to their little yoohoo as “another grandbaby”. That was the part that made me cry with relief and happiness. What happened there? Isn’t that amazing?

    I don’t require that a person realize that when they are hating-queers to me it is like they are stabbing me personally since they are talking about ME. It is quite a relief when that finally eases up.

    I have often wondered at my own motives and worried that it was wrong for me to establish a relationship with my parents again after twice being thrown out of the family and then the years of painful semi-inclusion and tension. And in some ways for years it has felt like a mistake-ridden compromise that might be more painful to me than it is worth. But in the long run I think it’s good (and it would also of course have been horribly painful to keep my distance and to know how much it would be paining them if I had.) Also, I felt (and still somewhat feel) that it is just a matter of time before some other Outing (like poly relationships, or blogs that are certainly easy enough to find once my anonymity was unfixably broached) would mean another confrontation, and being thrown out again. I understand it must be hard to find yourself a parent to someone like me (not because of queerness so much as because of annoying relentless uncompromising unquiet passionate uppityness, set permanently on public broadcast turned up to 11.) On my end, I think I have learned to throttle myself down a little bit when around them. (I was very interested to see Zond-7 do that same kind of muting around his family and how well it worked, and it struck me as being a very kind thing, difficult to do with sincerity, but not impossible.)

    Rook had a cold the whole time and so did Zond-7 (who slept for almost 2 whole days, freaking me out somewhat.) I keep getting the feeling of almost-a-cold.

    The weekend was as low key on the surface as possible, most of the time, but very intense underneath the surface.

    Over my limits

    Well that was annoying and humiliating. After a day of mostly being able to do stuff, feeling fairly robust, I hovered in my car for 20 minutes to get a parking space in front of That Cafe so that I could walk in instead of wheeling. Then I sat in the car for a few more minutes thinking, “Can I do this? Should I? Have I hit my limit for the day? Can I be in there and manage everything and make it to the bathroom and back and get my coffee and find a place to sit?”

    I had been picturing how I would be in there looking very vertical and might run into someone I know and be all nonchalant if they were surprised, gently buffing my fingernails against my imaginary velvet smoking jacket and saying “Oh… yes… walking. It’s nothing, really.” So I crutched in and immediately ran into someone I know who looked surprised and I acted nonchalant and put my stuff down.

    The line, which is part of what I was worried about, was just one guy. After I stood there behind him for a while (and apparently he had some complicated things to discuss about fancy varieties of coffee from somewhere specific to the person behind the counter, who looked annoyed) I realized the standing in line thing was not so much going to work and my legs were all wobbly. I scooted around the coffee-bean-snob to lean my elbows on the counter and hope that maybe another person would come take my order.

    (In retrospect, maybe the barista thought I was trying to cut in line or was acting huffy and impatient?)

    So after a while longer I asked for coffee and a donut. I wanted to ask them if someone would mind bringing the coffee to me but then I figured that would be too hard and I would just ask someone else to get it for me or do it slowly on one crutch. I paid and stuck some money in the tip jar and sat down… Then got up a couple of times to check if there was a donut for me… and realized I had indeed made an enormous mistake and shoudl just go get my wheelchair. But meanwhile the guy I knew asked me if my legs were getting stronger and stronger. I said yes and then felt stupid that I was about to haul my ass back to the car and come back on wheels. And finally got up again and asked about the pastry. The barista told me abruptly that I hadn’t ordered one. I said I had. They said I hadn’t. I didn’t mind… just figured I’d order it now if it didn’t register the first time… but I said “But, didn’t you give me 2 bucks back, so I must have ordered it since I paid like 7 or 8 dollars”. They said no and so I went back to the table & then realized the 2 bucks was actually a 1 and a 5. So I went back to tell them that, and to order the pastry this time for real and pay for it. I said something like “Oh sorry it was 6 bucks and i thought it was 2, no big deal…” Then they yelled at me and said I needed to wait my turn (there was only one person; not a giant line I was cutting in front of; and I was endeavoring to make some eye contact with that person to get tacit permission, which I expected, since I am obviously fucking crippled.) But instead the person behind the counter continued yelling at me and saying that they did not appreciate being accused of stealing and that I was rude.

    I said I was not accusing anyone of anything but that as far as I knew I had ordered a thing.. and was just asking for it, because I had expected it, and it wasn’t important, and I had mistaken the amount of change. It was all kind of dumb and overwhelming.

    Meanwhile my legs hurt like fuck and I was about to cry from that and from frustration that I had misjudged my ability to be walking around. I really had to pee but I realized I couldn’t cope with the bathroom, getting through the crowded room, getting the coffee which seemed impossible now, on legs. So as I sat there in the chair next to my acquaintance I realized also that if I went and got the wheelchair it would look sort of weird or like I was doing it on purpose to make some kind of point. Soooooo… I tried to explain a little to P. that I just needed to leave but flubbed it.. could not explain… did not want to cry… felt suddenly angry at myself for not asking him for help… and at the whole thing… and just sort of overwhelmingly angry and humiliated and unable to explain. So I drove off and cried a while and Zond-7 rescued me. Now we are both working from bed, a good place to be. And there are delicious tamales. And pastries.

    I remember that it was rough trying to transition out of the chair, and this is why. Once you are used to using a wheelchair it is all totally fine… and I also adjusted to popping in and out of the chair without too much judgement on myself for it, very comfortably. But once I decided I am trying to get out of the chair, it’s all difficult again.

    Also, I’m feeling so shitty because I made up an artificial goal for myself and then felt like I failed. In front of a lot of people (who didn’t notice, or care, of course; but maybe just a little, and that makes it so much more hideous.) And then I think “But I’m not the kind of person who cares what other people think of me, so why do I feel humiliated and bothered?” But I did feel it, and do!

    And partly I’m bothered because .. as Zond-7 just pointed out so helpfully… you accept yourself how you are, and then you make up your mind you want to change, so you’re essentially saying “I want to be this other thing, because I like it better“, which is unsettling to identity and certainty.

    If I’d just decided to go into there in the chair, everything would have been fine, I would have been happy and been able to get my things and wait in line and carry stuff and use the bathroom and be social, without any fuss or worry.

    I hope this explains also why I get so anxious about whether to use the crutches or chair in various situations. Usually, I use the chair unless I have someone with me for support and back up (since they can always go get the chair for me, and do the difficult line-standing and fetching activities.)

    Well, as usual when I feel turbulent and embarrassed over something fairly trivial the solution is to process it thoroughly in public to make sure I’m being entirely honest.

    The people in the cafe were mildly jerky, but I don’t blame them for the bits of things that have to do with me pushing my own physical limits and not quite making it.

    It’s lovely to be in bed now. I feel all perturbed and raw from having cried and felt so annoyed with myself and everything and it is best to hug a pillow for a while and perhaps have a nap.