Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

Riot Grrl Nostalgia show

There was a good crowd at the Center for Sex & Culture last night last week for the riot grrl SFinX reading. Here’s my notes!

Carol Queen read an intro for Gina de Vries.

Gina wrote Curve mag’s “Hey Baby” column. In 97 she was called “jarringly precocious” by Time Magazine.
Carol (interrupting herself): I did not know that. That is AWESOME! When I was jarringly precocious Time magazine never noticed! There was a photo… gina what were you wearing in it?
Gina: Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society
Carol: How old were you?
Gina: 14
*everyone cracks up*
*more intro*

Gina: There will be cupcakes at intermission. chocolate bergamot… Homemade! I made them! *audience cheers*

Gina read a memoir piece in 2 parts. The first part was about when she was 14 and bought her leopard print mini skirt. “It was the sluttiest thing i’d ever bought.”

Her deep friendship with a very serious queer femme riot grrl, Lila. We talked about veganism, bands, racism, and pornography. (They had class differences. Lila and a lot of the other girls were richer.) Making mix tapes and trading them. Gina read “The Persistent Desire”. Traded zines with every girl I met and hundreds of others through the mail. Starstruck at meeting Kate Bornstein. The overwhelming joy of finally being taken seriously as a queer girl.

“Dykes and fags! Working together! Biphobia sucks! Transgender revolution! Fuck shit UP!” *cheers*
We were so earnest…

Melissa Gira reading from draft of Girl Out of Order … i liked best the bit about how she would work until she passed out, and the process of taking photos of cartoons on tv with a disposable camera, getting them developed at the drugstore, carefully scanning them with a sort of squeegee scanner into the huge, beige, computer at her friend’s parents’ house, then printing it out, cutting it up into bits, writing on it, and pasting it with rubber cement into a zine.

The dangers of the postal service. Sending naked photos of herself. “Parents, lock up your stamps!”

A bunch about sex. Playing out age play with her boyfriend. Pretending to be a virgin (in one of the best asides of the night Melissa added, “Of course it had only been having sex for 4 months”)

Celeste Chan – Riot Grrl was before my time but i was inspired by it, read Sassy, checked Bikini Kill albums out from the library, watched the Yo Yo gang, moved to Olympia in 2000, I imagined it all fantastic and full of fierce eyed women, like it was dyke march every day….*cheers from audience* Instead, it was like getting too close to a dream best friend. You see their flaws. Huggy Bear, Bratmobile, Bikini Kill, thrifting… loved the ethos of diy and you can do anything. It was one of the very few subcultures dealing with violence against women, homophobia, fatphobia and the masculinist nature of punk culture. Addressing competition and jealousy that women are socialized into. It was great. Bring back riot grrrl!!!!!

Zuleikha Mahmoud. Femme shark. ***FEMME SHARKS!!!!!**** yell from audience. Omar and the lesbians band. Going on tour with Mangos with Chili. *cheers*

I, like Celeste, was a little too young. Was in hard core rural Pennsylvania. It didn’t quite make it there. That was the only thing that helped me imagine another life. When I was a little kid I was a strong feminist and I didn’t have a word for it. Then I started going to the library and the librarians had a really intense stockpile of feminist books.

So now I’m writing a book about slutty muslim girls. To reflect myself and the girls I love. A novel. I could read that or, *cries of “BOTH!!!” from audience* AND, I was going to read a piece about the first pride i went to, 2005 in new york.

“Jess is on her way over… she was going to bring her bass to teach me how to play. “I’ll teach you some fingering” and then we laughed but she said she really earnestly wanted to start a band with me. I hope to god she also wants to fuck me. I ran around my apartment hiding all the mainstream shit. The beauty mags and nikes. (phone call with friend) What’s up bachaim. (Farsi for “baby, dear friend”) (explanation of girl coming over) “Text me if you lose your lesbian virginity.” “Inshallah”. God, I wanted her, as much as I wanted shoes or drugs, as much as I wanted to move out when I lived with my parents. (she comes over) “Take your shoes off this is an asian house.” Jess eats a banana. DO THEY KISS OR WHAT OMG I CAN’T WAIT you will have to read the book when Zuleikha finishes it. (Note my subtle implication that she WILL FINISH IT DAMMIT… because it rocks)
2nd story from Zuleikha. First pride march. The night before. Homophobe violence. racism. a fight. I knew the parade was corporate but wasn’t prepared to have Macy’s celebrating my gayness or whatever!
Emotional moment of a parent filming their kid in the parade proudly…

(break) (cupcakes!) A bunch of us stand around and bond on how back then we learned how to do menstrual extraction and were all ready to start smuggling RU-486.

Then me

I talked about my zines and how I started identifying with riot grrl stuff, and showed a folder of a jillion letters, April – June 94, from all over the country. Then read some bits of the Slut Manifesto, which got a lot of laughs. (omg, i must find a better home for that manifesto.) I edited out a lot of the long ranty bits, warning everyone that during edits I’d say “Rant rant rant”. I had not timed it and have no idea how long I read, am hoping not too long. I enjoyed reading it so much. It was tempting to edit the hell out of it and also go back in time and argue with myself. Still I felt a sudden wave of affection for my fierce little self of years ago. Carol asked me if I had written in in irony or not. In retrospect, sure, there was plenty of irony in there but I also meant everything.

This was the first reading I’ve done since disabled again where I felt like I had a reasonable amount of energy and verve. Now, I can pull it off even when I feel like shit and have to fake it, but it feels so great to get a little of my mojo back. whew! and to feel connected with people. I don’t think I’ve ever read to, how should i put this, such the right target audience for anything i’ve read out loud. (though the capitol punishment story at years-ago-SFinX was similar!) how nice was that!!! and my riot grrl stuff does not really get integrated with the other bits of my life, very often. (though i do feel like blogging and even working with blogher are my continuation of all that.)

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarsinha – growing up in (amherst?) – ad in the back of MRR – “I love janes addiction, i cut myself, write me” and getting a ton of letters. riot grrl wrote to her and had gone through MRR to write to every girl who had an ad. Leah was touched… parents didn’t let her out of the house… (next town over might as well have been on the moon.) Moved to NY – then was like “oh, crap, i’m really poor” also tough being mixed race punk in ny… met unsuitable guy way older – blew him off – “some guy who looked like freddy kruger at the bookstore wanted to fuck me” crazy guys breathing on you and trying line after line… 13th street squat getting busted. mystical hippie earth firsters trying to hold down a chapter in midtown manhattan where there pretty much wasn’t an ecosystem left anywhere… She was 19… admired an older 24 yr old woman who was so tough and had been living in squats for 10 years but who would not talk with her… Cops, a tank, assault rifles, it felt like us or them, 500 bodies, no matter how much we blieved in non-violent resistence… dragged off one by one… The guy was a brilliant storyteller… the way people are who have been on the street or in prison since they were kids… he was bi and assumed she was… (I forget what funny queer punk tshirt he had on but it made me laugh) took off their shirts on wall street… fucking in another squat with the guy… not really quite feeling it as sexual … though enjoyable… “like the promise of some day having a body” (I loved that description of sex)

I forget who it was (Leah?) saying something hilarious about west coast queer punk girls being all tra la about it but NYC punk girls being all like FUCK YOU I HATE WOMEN.

Nomy Lamm – old spoken word stuff from 93 – but here instead is stuff that i didn’t read in public at the time. “the ain’t” was my band and this was our song. sing with me… (we sing the bass line) … easy target… piece about living with her best friend who she was in love with. Their messy house and the junk food and fruit flies! Stuff about jealousy, about punk scene hierarchies and how could we have this movement and still have that and so many things being about conforming or conventional attractiveness. (She and another woman whose name I did not catch but who played bass did a song – Nomy played the accordion)

A whole lot of us went to Chow afterwards. I was not sure if I was at the grownup table or the butch table. we talked about Steven’s anarchist anthropologist book and i forget what all else, some about the readings, i went over and talked a bit with everybody else… I think they were going to Rebel Girl at the Rickshaw Stop.

tonight hazelbroom and I were gossipping on IM about all this and we were just listing off 90s dykey zine people and telling funny stories. I told her how I wished I had met Stephanie Kulick who I traded zines with and then later saw Mark’s page about her and realized she was likely a major kindred spirit right down to her woman symbol necklace matching my woman symbol earring which I lost in the ballerina pie fight.

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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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The mildest of adventures in London

Already I’ve lost track of the days but I didn’t want to forget lying on the leather couch in the trendy-empty bar looking out the window at some blue sky and the brick building across the narrow lane. The bricks were sooty gold with red-brick stripes and the outline of what seemed to be a ghost building underneath. The window and door frames, dark green, strangely the same color paint as the bar’s interior metal beams. I thought about the history of the building, and what it would be like to maintain it now as a facilities person or trying to run cable through it. I wondered why there were doors in a row on every story leading out into the street. Did there used to be a hallway? Zond-7 came back from ordering at the bar and said no – it was a factory and look up higher, there’s a winch. For winching out the finished websites perhaps since that’s what they make now, in the factories. We made up silly things, like the ftp man doing his rounds. “Bring out your files! Bring out your files! Uploads for downloads!” The telnetster in traditional garb, mostly superseded by the ssh man in his dapper uniform and neat-brimmed hat. Sad, really.

Later we figured out why that bar (so nice – called Cantaloupe) was empty – there are like 50 other trendy-ass bars but with patios and on hoxton square just a couple of blocks away. Not that that should matter since every ratty bar and pub is crowded here even on a Tuesday night.

street angel

We spent a whole extra day recovering and working from bed, only venturing a few blocks from the flat to grab some food. I have the very-local geography down, now, and know where to buy food and how to go find a taxi and the tube station and what other directions might be good to explore.

I am really enjoying c. and a.’s flat in every way. It’s so cute and perfect and cosy! I did my conference call from the hammock. The next door kids are cute as hell and it cheers me to hear them playing. I enjoy their art and funny kitschy stuff… and how cleverly they store all their crap… their million-page FAQ about their house and office and neighborhood, and their lovely gleaming red espresso machine (kitchenaid) and let’s not even go into how nice I think the damned washlet is. hahahah! Washlet!! I’m not super in love with having a million stairs, but on the other hand I can take my time, treat it as physical therapy, and it’s probably good for me. I’m trying to think what I can do in return or what would be nice to leave them… stock them up with nice groceries… nice coffee etc. And in general I have good “letting people crash at my place” karma so really the thing to do is to keep passing that on.

Observation, people in Britain do not say Hello or anything at all to strangers on the street. They take this so far that they don’t even look at you in the face, which makes it damned hard to tell which way to barrel forward in your speedy wheelchair.

fruit at night

Today I left Zond-7 sweating over his deadline while I ran off to the British Library for a couple of hours. I felt like I had to break a little barrier of going places by myself. Thought about taking the Old St. tube to St. Pancras or King’s Cross or whatever but then realized it was a bit late, I was tired, screw it, it would then become all about sweatily going through miles of tunnels and ramps and being ill natured at railway employees’ passive aggressive “help”. So, a taxi.

London taxis are AWESOME! I said this before, but here it is again. If you are in a wheelchair and have money to spend like water then just take taxis everywhere. All the black cabs are mega-accessible. The back doors slide open like a van, a ramp comes out, there are hand rails, seats swivel and fold down if you need that, and the back seat is huge with a big empty wheelchair-holding space.The taxis stop for me! They don’t fuss or freak out too much. A little bit, but not bad at all. I don’t need the ramp and I can pull my chair up into the taxi, without having to take it apart or fold it up.

London taxi access

You see what I mean about mild adventures. Hey you’re on your own in a strange city! What will you do! OH I KNOW I’LL TAKE A TAXI TO THE LIBRARY. Okay! Yes! In fact, that is what I always do!

Then I wander around and take photos of graffiti and street art and bricks and manhole covers.

The British Library (the giant new brick building) has very good wheelchair access. I especially appreciated the signs, big, high up, frequent, and very clear, pointing me to ramps and elevators.

Revolution Revolution

So at the library I got my reading pass. They get you to line up and ask if you have ID and details of what you want to see. They don’t really care what you want to see and you don’t have to prove anything to them about your research project; they just want to know that you know that there’s a specific thing in the library that they own, that you want to look at! So they ask “Do you have something written down or printed out” … but mostly to rule out the people who should go to the public library to check out a mystery novel or look something up in the encyclopedia or whatever. I had jotted down the names of a couple of poets and began to open my notebook and they waved me through. If you don’t have “details written down” then they shunt you over to some computers where you can look in the catalogue and come up with a list of books. After this queue I filled out a web form (nicely accessible computer with huge monitor and huge font) and then waited till my number was called. A few questions later and a photo… now I have a nifty 1- month card! So I will be looking at a bunch of books by (and about) Emilia Bernal, and some suffragist newspapers and I might also look for women’s newspapers from 1830s France as I suspect they might be in there and it will give me a thrill.

I figured out by scouting it out physically that it will be easy to take the tube there and then harder to get back (because of having to come up the Old Street ramp) so it’ll be better to take a taxi back.

After a bit more work at “home” we went out to an indian restaurant on brick lane. I took a lot of photos of great street art.

It’s exhausting to wheel up and down all those curbs. they are oftn very low but even an inch up and down is tiring. My hands hurt like hell. Also… holy hell… bricks and cobblestones are hell on my back, it’s like the vibrations from “Wages of Fear“.

In the library as there wasn’t enough time left to order any books, I went to exhibits. There was a great exhibit of chinese, korean, & japanese color wood block printing on the 2nd floor. I wrote down a bunch of them to look up later. A lot of the bird ones I wished I could show Minnie. Here are my notes

- Ten Bamboo Studio 1634
- Soken Sekisatsu 1768 Hojakuchu “Dazzling simplicity in … prints”
- a literary and artistic gathering 1839 chikutenzan
400 artists and writers with names. i sat there a while and counted the women. there were 22. many facing each other or sitting in groups, not isolated from each other
- shin kawazu (..awase) 1820 New Poetry Competition of Frogs nifty anthology/collaboration
- kawa… bumpo = awesome
- The gifts of the seas umi no sachi 1762 mica used in ink for prints for fishy sheen!
- kimpaen’s picture album 1820 (bumpo, same guy) Kimpaen gafu. Birds birds birds!!!
- Wang Cheo pictures of foreign things 1998 made me think of “woolgathering”

chocolate for women, right?

Then saw huge Ramayana exhibit which made me think of talking with Neha (nehavish) about Surpanakha (who i did not find in the exhibit though i didn’t see all of it and she is perhaps not in every version) but mostly in this exhibit I was excited to see books written on palm leaves. One of those things I’ve often read about and wondered what it is really like… it is like thin flat fan blades about the size of an 8 inch ruler, with 2 holes drilled in rolodex style, polished smooth maybe with some varnish or sizing, and very small delicate writing.

Swooned at lovely book binding, maps, illuminated manuscripts exhibit. I thought of how lucky i felt when i worked at the geology library and dennis let me look at the super rare illustrated books he kept back in his office. amazing french books with taxonomy & botanical illustrations & fossils… The book that blew me away today and got me to tears was a persian one from 1610 ad , Anvar-i Suhayli which is a version of Kalila & Dimna / Pancatantra. written by Husayn … v…. Kashifi (can’t read my own handwriting!) for Prince Salim who became the emperor Jahangir. Now anyone who has bothered to read this for the last N years knows I’m obsessed with the Pancatantra and all its derivatives!

This might sound very exciting but consider that most of my time in London so far has been spent within a 3-block radius of this bed where I am lying 90% of the time peacefully Computing the same as I would anywhere else in the world, in the midst of a small mountain of used kleenexes and allergy meds, reporting intermittently that my legs and knees and back and hands hurt like hell and that I need more chocolate.

flyers

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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.)

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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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Road trip north!

Mountains that look like volcanoes, covered in snow! Lots of tantalizing roadcuts that we have whooshed past! We got on 101 at Cesar Chavez at 10am. It’s 7:30 now, coming up on Eugene, Oregon. All three of us have to stop about once an hour to pee, which has been extremely pleasant; no one is impatient with anyone else’s bladder. We have healthy food and chocolate from Sarah’s shopping trip and yet chips, sodas, ice cream, beef jerky, ends up in our pockets.

We had lunch at Big D’s BBQ/ Silva’s Restaurant in South Weed, right under Mt. Shasta – sat on a deck outside in the sun & gawked at mountains & devoured the best bbq sandwiches. I highly recommend their coleslaw and potato salad. The sandwiches were on perfectly soft giant buns slathered with garlic butter, toasted, then mayo & lettuce and tomato… *drools in memory*

Everything has gone green! After the pass coming down into Oregon, no more sagebrush and scrub.

I saw some columnar basalt, a lot of mudstone and sandstone layers, something I think was a giant roadcut of ash (as it looked a lot like the painted desert and it was right before we got to Ashland), some stuff to the west that looked granitic (in how it was weathering). Maybe on the way back I’ll stop and look a few times. When we pass a roadcut or some bare rock I get so excited like my cats get when they see a toy mouse.

We are pushing on to Portland tonight so that tomorrow there is only a little to do – that way we can rest.

I need that rest as I started out loping along with only a tiny bit of help from crutches. By now though I am in some pain and limping a lot. Next stop I might need the chair.

I talked with my mom and my grandma rallied a bit & is back in rehab. She was in the hospital with a possible TIA and pneumonia, then out again to rehab sort of place, then last night they couldn’t wake her up and brought her back to the hospital and my mom was very upset & thought she was dying. She might be. She sounds really confused. They have had trouble feeding her. It sounds really tough. My mom is being really brave and a good advocate.

My throat is still horrible. Not scratchy but it seems very swollen. Zond-7 has a cold too and also had a root canal yesterday and was jet lagged and just ill in every way. We ordered pho and went to bed at about 9:30, whimpering with the unfairness of it all but very comforted by the soup and cosy bed. Though, a horrible awakening at 6am as his roommate’s dog got into the house and for some reason shit all over the carpet by the bed so his roommate helped us take up the giant carpet (which was half-pinned underneath the bed) It turned out the dog had kind of lost control various other places so she is probably sick… From there everything went uphill as Zond-7′s fever had broken and I felt perky and good. Coffee, some cheery early-morning reading of Ubik, email check & I was off to get Sarah and cindymonkey. We are enjoying each others’ stories & music.

This is all a bit flat as I’m so tired now!

Earlier I was very excited because of the gorgeous mountains!

At various points in rural highway California we were all eyed in a friendly way at gas stations by cute women, definitely checked out by the check-out girls. OH HAI we are the city freaks! But in Oregon as we neared Grants Pass cindymonkey told us about this one time she was near there at a gas station bathroom and there was a giant obvious group marriage of women in old fashioned dresses giving her dirty looks. She was waiting in line for the bathroom. & one of them came out and gave her an evil-sweet smile and when cindy went in she realized the woman had covered the bathroom in poo like all over everything. (How, in one of those long dresses!?)

My plan tonight is a motel somehwere or Sarah’s friend might find us a hotel. I think they all will go out drinking if we can find a motel at a truck stop with food and a Trucker Saloon, while I gracefully fall onto a motel fainting couch with Vicodin by my side.

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A lovely day!

We had a lovely lovely morning, talking about books and sf and gender and http and REST, work and life; breakfast at boogal00s with vito_excalibur and her squeeze, (walking! sunlight!) an interlude of riffling through zines at Aquarius (bought King Cat, Cambodian pop rescued from old cassettes in the Oakland library, Betty Davis) then a nap (sort of dreamy and dozy) and listening to the cambodian music and davis and then some peruvian huaynos including one about a giant trampling/tear gas tragedy at a stadium. Now there will be juice, chocolate, hacking. I think this is the first real day I have had without being in a lot of pain. I feel fantastic.

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A day of doing everything superwoman style

Today I blogged a bit over at feministsf.net to post the Carl Brandon Society booklist of speculative fiction for Black History Month, adding links for all the books and authors and a few notes. I had coffee with Mark and gossiped somewhat harshly and honestly about literary things. I was really glad he called and pried me out of my comfortable electric blanket cave, because it was a beautiful day and that was some good pie. I was on crutches, and I might add, only halfway so and very nimbly.

Then I came home and rested a bit and tore apart the bathroom “closet” which is actually the bathtub and shower with a clothes-hanging rail thing and some boards on top and milk crates in the bathtub. Oh, my god, what a lot of crap got thrown in there over the last year. At some point, something dripped or condensed. Mold grew. There is still mold. I threw away 4 enormous bags of stuff, and put the rest in bins, in rough order, and washed some things to put elsewhere. Everything in there needs to be removed & washed and the tub blasted with anti-mildew cannons. For now, it’s at least decrufted and orderly.

I did much the same thing to the hall closet, in which some months ago my parents labored to install shelves. Those shelves were buried in stuff that has not been put away in the intervening months. I threw out a lot of sheets to make everything fit in the little bins for sheets and blankets and pillowcases. Whew! Most of it I did sitting down, but it was still a lot of physical work.

Then, feeling like a huge weight was off me, I rested a tiny bit more. And then drove off to deposit checks and to vote. (Checks, on crutches! Scarily! Voting, in the chair, because it was too far, and I didn’t think I could stand there and if there was no chair to sit in I’d be screwed.)

I snapped at the same “nice” volunteer lady I snapped at last time. She was weirdly holding the door for me even though the door was propped open (and she was in the way doing it.) I stopped dead and just stared at her in a fake polite way… waiting. Her smile got tenser. “Go right ahead!” I said. “Go on in! After you!”

Nice Voting Lady: Oh! *MASSIVE FLUSTERMENT*
Me: …. (waits)
Nice Voting Lady: Let me help you, here!
Me: Excuse me! *waits attentively*
Nice Voting Lady: I’ll just hold the door for you!
Me: Hmmm. Why? It’s propped open. (beginning to crack up laughing)
Nice Voting Lady: (with goose-hissing hostility, now) Well, why don’t I just hold it.
Me: Why? Does it make you feel good about yourself, like you’re helping crippled people? *completely loses it laughing*
Nice Voting Lady: *Ladylike sputtering* (Finally gets out of my way)

I am afraid I do not respect my elders sometimes as I should. I do not always spare them when they act weird because they are uncomfortable with me. Their pity is only a thin veneer over the anger they seem to have at me for being unexpected, and for causing them confusion and discomfort.

Oh well, usually, I’m super nice.

Then I drove off realizing there was no way I had it in me to go to the beach. I thought of the ocean and how nice it is to gaze at. I want warm sand against my cheek as I close my eyes against the sun and hear shrieky seagull noises and distant kids playing. I want to smell the clean but seaweedy smell and bake myself for hours like a dead thing washed up by the tide or a loaftastic elephant seal. No… could not make it. So I drove up to where 92 meets 280, where the bike riders park, and sat on the gravel next to my car, overlooking the reservoir & its sparkles & flocks of birds. Nearly as good… It’s a good thing I keep that picnic blanket in my car. I wished I had the perfect turkey sandwich at that moment and also that I was sweaty from physical exertion, hiking or swimming. Alas no. Just stiff and hurty from walking. I wrote poetry and thought about poetry and translations and looked at things I’d written. I felt so glad that there are always new things to think and that I can write them all down, and that I’m not bored with my own mind. In some ways it’s like tracks deepening, but there are still wild forays outwards.

I wrote poetry and also some musings on poetry and I thought about putting my essays-on-poetics and a whole jesusfuckload of translations up on Composite. I have an enormous backlog of translations and could post one every day for months without breaking a sweat. So… I might just start slammming them up there. Translation & publishing and international copyright are so fucking broken. I am done with that as a worry. Seriously, fuck it.

Anyway, writing was glorious. I stayed up there about an hour in the beautiful beautiful warm sunlight. My bones rejoiced. Even with my butt on a picnic blanket by the side of the road in the gravel & broken glass.

I crutched in to get Moomin! For the first time since mid October! Then I wished I hadn’t. I got out my chair and watched him run around the playground with some other kids. The other kids’ mom talked with me, when we both started laughing at Moomin who cannily pretended he wasn’t it, sidling up to his classmate’s little brother to tag him and run. Moomin was consistently the slowest runner, but excellent with strategy. He would stop and consider and plan.

At home he read a little bit and then I ripped him away from his book to play Crazy Machines, which came in the mail today! It was just his speed. He played without stopping to Level 16. I helped explain the way gears and rotational direction work. A perfect game for him, with no time pressure or THINGS COMING AT YOU OMG OMG ADRENALINE.

He did some homework and I rested and then I started cleaning obsessively again. I am freaking a bit that I will be working again, and not really better, and all the housecleaning and child care will fall on me and I’ll be completely fucked.

IN between that, while I was trying not to grab the mouse from Moomin and take over his Crazy Machines game, I modded up my wheelchair Barbie (aka “Becky”) with a black macbook with stickers:

with laptop

I’ve had this barbie doll since about 1993 when I was disabled the first time. She had my exact outfit with jeans, backpack, converse, and plaid flannel shirt. Also, my wheelchair at the time was red. And… it sounds corny… but I really did like having some kind of pop culture object that reflected something of my reality. She needs a haircut and a dye job don’t you think? Is it insane that I want to print out a tiny bit of text… I was thinking maybe a very-tiny screen shot of some blog that I read plus ecto in the background, and a term window, to paste into her computer screen…

Yes you heard me. I play with Barbies.

Then I made dinner for Moomin and then dinner for me and Rook (who has been at horrible late meetings) and tried to clean a little more and collapsed into a little heap. I should not have done anything else after dinner. And, I should not have done an errand AND gone to coffee AND voted AND picked Moomin up AND sat at the playground for so long AND made dinner. That was like the old me, trying to bust out, but I’m very much not there yet. Really, I can do *one thing* and pick up Moomin. There is no room for all that hauling ass. I was doing all that y’all and also working like 3 jobs … how?

I got cranky after about 8pm as I realized that there is so much to do. And i could just keep doing it. And I began to fret that I will not know how to manage things and that Moomin will not learn how to pick up after himself and neither will Rook and I will be their servant for the next 10 years. I unloaded the dishwasher and washed the dishes rather bangily and with a heart full of bitchiness. Oh where is my beautiful commune in which all the shit work is done together with hearty socialist gusto? And we don’t unload it all off onto someone of lower status? Where? Then I knew I was over tired and it was time to stop.

Also I was hurting like fuck and just disassociating as best I could in the name of “pushing myself to walk more” but also I think because I feel weirdly driven.

I still keep thinking… a million times a day… what if I had been dying, or degenerating as rapidly as I had feared… and never got time in this world to get my shit together. So much of the time I felt so helpless and frustrated. I have just got to do this and get my life in order while I can.

As even more of an excuse I offer to you that my parents are coming and I especially cannot take any crappy pity or condescension and so my plan is that everything is astonishingly clean. Or at least more of it.

So I will take a painkiller now and maybe cry recreationally while holding onto a pillow, and have hot chocolate in the bath.

It was nice to feel like my old self for most of the day.

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Reading The Shadow Speaker, and an update on pain

I’m in the middle of The Shadow Speaker (by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu) and am digging it a lot. It feels more serious & weighty than Zahrah the Windseeker, which I also loved. I like its superpowered mutant kids & intersecting magic worlds & fantastic writing. I might be in love with Jaa the Red Queen warrior who has two husbands. Or the way that the politics of chocolate play into the story. Or all the strong women in the story… Or the way that Ejii starts to be able to see things in microscopic vision, seeing cells, and then atoms and molecules. No… wait… really I’m still in love with the plant-computers from Windseeker. & the city. I’m a sucker for skyscrapers made out of giant plants.

Today was long but good. I recognize all the feelings in myself of a long day where I have gotten too exhausted. I don’t know where my limits are physically. I’m afraid not to push myself, and afraid to push myself too far. It’s so exciting to feel stronger. I am still so relieved and happy about being undiagnosed, but those feelings are complicated and mixed with fear, anger, guilt, feeling both duped by the probably-wrong diagnosis and also responsible for it somehow.

I walked around a lot this afternoon but still needed the wheelchair. My right leg stiffens up. But the deep horrible pain is gone… what was that about? Exhaustion perhaps? The baclofen making my legs perceive walking to the bathroom like running a marathon? My right foot burns, and tingles, and prickles, and goes numb, but mostly does what I want it to do, except lift up all the way. The cramps in the bottoms of my feet are gone. My other foot buzzes and hurts, as do my hands, but that’s usual… So in short, aside from being physically weaker from the last couple of months of less activity, I’m back to around where I was all spring and summer.

I helped Z. by driving him around and packing boxes into my car again this morning and being moral support in general. Later back in Deadwood, I sat and threw away old papers today. Half a file cabinet drawer is now toast. Then I got Moomin (tiring, but not *impossible*) and helped him with his homework and did some dishes. It was very hard and I laid down in between doing things every few minutes. I took out a bunch of the trash, which I haven’t done for ages and ages because it is difficult from a wheelchair, but now I can do it on one crutch if I am slow and careful. I feel scared, proud, and brave lately as I walk around so much. Anyway, finally around 8pm I realized I was going to cry, and found my off switch and made Rook (who is sick with a cold) wake up and take over.

I’m trying to remind myself that my usual pattern is to go too far and backslide. I don’t want to do that. Also sometimes it isn’t my fault; it’s just impossible to tell how much is too much to do at once.

This morning while driving around and waiting for Zond-7 to come down the stairs with boxes, I thought about some of my translations from early last year, and I listened to cheery and moody 80s music in the glorious sunlight… and was very happy. I had that feeling like I was in my car and could just decide to drive off and keep driving, full of music and sunlight.

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Soldering, baking, and a pain report


spoke POV project
Originally uploaded by Liz.

We soldered and messed around with these light-up wheel kits all of yesterday! Imagine how sad we were when our LEDs didn’t light up. Could it be our extremely amateurish, blobby soldering? Did we damage some components? We need expert advice!

I made soup again, and two loaves of bread in the bread machine. Housecleaners and pest control people came. So our house is sparkly and slightly less ant-y.

People from out of town don’t understand that you can’t do a damn thing about the ants. It doesn’t matter if you have food out, or if there are cracks in the tiles, or if you battle the ants daily. They come in for water, warmth, or just to hang out because they think we’re cool. In California, there are just rivers of ants. They’re all related, and live in enormous underground colonies with millions and millions of ants that are impossible to destroy. It’s not like pouring boiling water over the anthill is going to do it. The ants we live with probably are part of a colony that runs underneath an entire city block. Anyway, if you live here, now you know why our roses die.

On the other hand, our house probably won’t be having termite problems, since Argentine ants eat termites.

I’ll just stick to the occasional futile visit from pest control… and the more usual spraying with Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint.

Hamster is here for a sleepover with Moomin! And soon Quilty & M. will be over to hang out – I can’t wait to see them again.

It’s been mostly eating fancy food, loafing in bed, mild cleaning and bustling, and as I said the marathon day of soldering, here.

I drove Zond-7 up to the city on an errand and back and while there we had a bizarrely nice moment eating tacos in the car on 24th. I can’t explain. But it was the sort of thing I usually do on impulse, alone, so that it won’t annoy anyone else. Instead of feeling like I was imposing my vile need for tacos on a person who’d rather be doing nearly anything else, it was a weirdly nice shared moment and made me have funny cozy flashbacks to times I spent drinking hot chocolate from a thermos in my dad’s Toyota in between sledding and toboggan rides in 1975.

Chefily was (is) here! We hung out a bit and hot tubbed! She’s going back to Moscow soon…

Pain report! The warmth today helped me a lot. I kept the house warm and it was a sunny day. It helped that I didn’t go out. The last few days when it’s been cold, I’ve been noticing things like, if I have my feet on the footrests of the wheelchair, even in two pairs of socks. the pressure and cold of the bars sets off painful spasms in the bottoms of my feet and up through my ankles and calves. It was very apparent. My hands hurt a lot. Last night I was walking around a bit in the evening but then after I got out of the hot tub could barely move and my calves and some sort of inner thigh muscle near my knee went crazy… i collapsed in a lot of pain. Yesterday (before the soldering) and the day before, my left arm had a lot of spasms (sometimes painful, sometimes just odd-feeling). Little ones in my hands and then big deep weird ones in the back of my upper arm. The hand pain I can mostly ignore but am not having very good grip strength in one hand… Early this morning I woke up with something that has never happened before. My entire quadriceps muscle was in a horrible spasm and i felt like i was going to barf. The feeling was oddly like how my legs felt during labor during the “transition” phase. I woke up Zond-7 and got him to gently straighten out my leg. Once I was rolled over I could control my leg again. But before that… not.

Zond-7 said I don’t really whine much on this blog or on any blog. (He must have a high tolerance….) And that I should not talk about it as whining but that I’m open about what I’m going through. Though… often I’m really not that open. Or when I am, it’s not like people hear it. It becomes background noise, or else people want to believe the best thing out of a range of things. They want me to be okay, or improving. I am adapting better to the situation and to rapidly changing abilities and pain levels. But I am not improving. I’ve bounced back from a few awful rock bottom days or weeks, but over the last 9 months I don’t feel any improvement in what I can do functionally. Instead, my grip on capabilities and independence feels tenuous, and it seems like a new bit of me hurts every few days.

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