Posts Tagged ‘fashion’

Ruth Fielding of the Red Mill, 1913

I remember Ruth Fielding as being bold, thoughtful, creative, brave, and somewhat of a no-nonsense personality, who works hard on achieving financial independence. She was an orphaned teenager who comes to a small town to live with her mean, crusty old uncle Jabez Potter who runs the local mill on the banks of the Lumano River. His arthritic, hunchbacked, ancient, warm-hearted housekeeper “Aunt Alviry” is not actually Ruth’s aunt but is a servant and for a long time is the only person who loves Ruth. Uncle Jabez doesn’t believe in educating girls. But Ruth manages to win him over somehow. Anyway, Ruth goes off to boarding school at Briarwood Hall with her rich, beautiful motor-car-driving friend Helen Cameron, makes friends with everyone, and ends a terrible schoolgirl rivalry by creating just one big sorority, the Sweetbriars. I seem to recall their moonlight and candlelight ceremony where they’re hanging out in togas by a graceful statue, with a harp. Ruth goes on to have a lot of adventures that center around her solving mysteries, helping poor girls get an education. Her companions include the jolly and popular plump girl, Jennie; and the slightly bitter lame girl, Mercy, as well as a rich friend with a cute brother and a motorcar. Nothing new there, right? But…

Ruth Fielding book cover

The cool thing about Ruth Fielding is that she’s a scriptwriter for moving pictures! She saves her school when a building burns down by writing a moving picture scenario for Mr. Hamilton from the Aelectron Corporation! And goes on to become a successful writer, even transitioning from silent film to the talkies.

Note the fashion in the cover picture. It reminds me of the book from the Betsy-Tacy series where Betsy and the other girls try to look like Gibson Girls, with their dresses gracefully draped instead of being tightly fitted, and a “droop” to their figure, slouching rather than standing up straight.

I believe this might be the series where all the girls make graduation dresses from simple white cheesecloth so that the poor girls won’t feel outshone by rich girl satin and lace. Or is that Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm? There was an amazingly cunning plan for their class valedictorian, Mercy the lame girl, to be able to graduate on stage by the clever and unprecedented use of a podium or a sort of Grecian drapery on a dais. Because it would be impossible for her to graduate on crutches despite her being the damn valedictorian on crutches! Mercy had a sharp temper because of her pain and illness and difference, and all the other girls take that into stride. She wasn’t cured magically like Katy and Pollyanna and she didn’t develop perfect patience; she stays crippled and a little bit bitchy. She’s my hero!

Alice B. Emerson was a pseudonym used by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Known authors who wrote Ruth Fielding books include Mildred Wirt Benson, W. Bert Foster, and Elizabeth M. Duffield Ward. Thanks to Jennifer at Series Books for Girls blog, which I’ve only just now found while searching for anyone… anyone… on the net who is also obsessed with this stuff!

Click through for my re-read and chapter by chapter summary of Ruth Fielding of the Red Mill in all its glorious faily goodness. Or, you can read the full text here from Project Gutenberg. Summary: The miser has a heart of gold; the crippled girl walks again; Ruth wins the spelling bee and gets a new dress; there is a lone page where a Mammy and a young black girl make cameo appearances. The young black girl does not get to go to school or make any friends or get any dresses…

(more…)

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To all Republicans trying to keep a shred of decency

I guess stirring up people’s fear and hatred has some result. Can the Republican Party realize what it’s doing here? They try to make a scared, angry mob by pushing the culture wars and racism to extremes. And that is what they have done.

McCain is trying to put out the fire a bit while on the other hand with approval from his campaign and with impunity Sarah Palin fans the flames and adds fuel. You can see in the videos how she likes the boo-ing and the power and feeling of whipping people up into a frenzy of hatred. Fine, it’s hatred and fear that’s there, but you don’t have to FEED IT.

I have been doing my best personally to reach across party lines and across social differences to religious and conservative people who think I am damned to eternal hell for my sexuality or whatever or not allowed to have any place in society. And I make an effort to deal with those people in a rational and just and civic fashion and to respect them. I will continue to do that to the best of my ability.

I like what my friend Cynthia1960 said recently. “I don’t have to treat everyone as my ally. But I have to treat everyone as my possible future ally.” That applies perfectly in this situation. That is the attitude I will maintain to these people no matter what they do. That’s what it takes.

Republicans you had better step up and rein in your attack dogs. What, I’ve watched people get arrested and thrown around by police for years at peaceful rallies, anti war, immigration rallies, and when people do this at a presidential candidate’s speech, nothing happens, no blowback, no nothing? You really want to vote for that? You want that to be the image of your political party and its beliefs?

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Thoughts at the beginning of The Hostile Takeover trilogy

A hundred pages in to The Hostile Takeover trilogy I have the basic idea of what’s going on. Cast of characters:

* Dmitri who is super super old and lives on Mars and has lots of replacement organs.
* Ambrose is his cyberslave Jeeves. If you get robot body parts you are no longer human. Oh no!
* Klaus Dacham who is EEEEEVIL and whose mom Helen died. Head of TEC which stands for uhhhh The Evil CIA, or something. Sucks the blood of kittens.
* Captain Kathy Shane, interstellar marine in the Confederacy. She’s tuff and has a cool punk haircut.
* Dominic Magnus which is a pseudonym and who killed Helen and who is on Bakunin the anarchist planet. Used to be in TEC. Started GA&A megacorp. OMG has robot parts. Stares at self in mirror a lot. Gothy.
* Tetsami who is an industrial espionage superhacker and rides a flying motorbike on the anarchist planet. She has a cool sexy haircut.
* The mystery assassin on Mars. (There are hints in a couple of chapters to who it is and how/why.)
* The AI (s) who have their own mysterious motivations.
* We will not “spoil” things for you by pointing out that of these characters some of them might be BROTHERS OMG MAYBE EVEN TWINSIES!! Angstorama!

So far my main thoughts are,

The anarchist planet horrible paladin church with TV game show killings and ransoms are AWESOME and funny. There is a good bit of Tetsami and Dom discussing how the socialist anarchist atheists who founded Bakunin’s colony would be rolling in their graves at the Techno Paladins. The paladins run around in shiny cyber armor rescuing people and slaying criminals. Or they stun everyone and take them hostage to be on their holo tv game show where the audience phones in money to kill, ransom, or perhaps maim the rescued or the criminals. This is great – you can totally picture it happening on the anarchist planet.

I want to write funny bits where Dom is staring at himself in the mirror thinking of suicide because he’s half robot and stuff (as has done already several times in 100 pages and will clearly do again) and then some horribly funny over-gothy sex happens. Or his thoughts as he broodily contemplates his robot dick in the mirror in all its throbbing cyber glory. Slash with the *cough*brother*cough*! Or a scene where he shows his partner in crime his “hardware specifications”! Maybe it’s just me. I’m waiting to see if the author will actually go there himself to write a tacky robot sex scene. Why waste ink if it’s already in the book?

About the scene where Dom is being attacked by a gang of thugs. The writer takes the time to set up all the thugs as separate people with different haircuts and outfits and little personalities like roleplaying game NPCs and then they all get SHOT DEAD in half a page. It has a timeless trashy-beautiful quality about it like the scene in a war movie where the guys in the submarine or the trenches all have cardboard personalities set up so that you can appreciate the pathos of their deaths. But here, more so that you can feel you are in Pit Fighter kicking the ass of Slightly Futuristic Stereotype #5 with an eyepatch, and remember him as a different death than Slightly Futuristic Stereotype #6 with the mohawk. In Hostile Takeover so far, this happens a lot, part of what makes it satisifyingly trashy.

One more thing. Like most science fiction books that think out a politically and culturally different far distant future there is not a very good gender analysis. On the anarchist planet in theory everyone has these giant fucking laser cannons and motorbikes, or whatever, and so why do we still have some kind of fundamental patriarchy such that Tetsami thinks instantly of her main value as sex work? What the hell? Gender essentialism I guess. If you have a society where an industrial espionage black ops hacking expert who has survived against all odds by being incredibly tough and having a giant motorbike and blaster bazooka things or whatever she has in her arsenal, why would your main selling point to ransom yourself be to fuck the guy who ransoms you? (Minor spoiler: She doesn’t – it is just her big plan. Don’t worry.) Why wouldn’t you be like OH HAI I HAZ MAD SKILLZ AND CAN FIX YOUR COMPUTERZ. Why assume it would be a man who ransoms her and that anyone (male or female) would care to pay that much to fuck her? If that’s what instantly springs to her mind it has all sorts of weird implications that don’t seem to really hold water – it would mean women are terrifically oppressed and disempowered in Bakunin’s anarchist system (for some strange reason) and that also somehow, there aren’t enough prostitutes (which there would be if women were that disempowered) so men are so desperate to fuck this one hacker chick with a hot haircut that they would pay a king’s ransom to do so. Also, it’s idiotic that she is made to say it sort of bravely like it would be difficult and the other dude was shocked and impressed that she might just square her jaw and go “Because I’d promise to fuck him” like she should squeal at the thought with maiden delicacy and horror and he admired her pragmatism. Dude…. just NOT. All you have to do is regender the scene in your mind, and the politics and culture don’t make any sense.

Zond-7 has reassured me that no one gets raped and the situation of women in the book is balanced and not what one might expect though there is some denial of agency which is then later rectified. We’ll see! I noticed in the Paladin game show the audience votes to fry a captive who was caught “raping a teenage girl” so I suspect rape culture will pervade this sf novel – so disappointing – you can imagine interstellar travel, yet you think that patriarchy is permanent?

I give a huge amount of credit for the entertaining setup. I love the horrible yet still attractive anarchist planet! The anarchists are sort of the good guys! That part’s great so far.

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Travel journal from a working holiday

I woke up in such pain. My arms could barely move and walking wasn’t good either. Zond-7 massaged my neck and shoulder and right arm, I had coffee, stretched a lot, waited for anti-inflammatories to kick in, and now I can make a fist and can type and behave normally.

That’s always a scary feeling!

All the curb-hopping is taking its toll.

useful apology sign

Consider that even to go the 3 blocks to Old Street which seem so trivial on paper or on legs, I must curb-hop about 20 times. Each driveway or alleyway has its difficulties. I’ll count today, and take some photos.

Yesterday I tagged along and worked from the ORG office which is itself embedded in Venda’s offices. Had a drink with a bunch of them and talked sf and cyberpunk and hardware & mass production with G. We had unexciting dinner in Hoxton Square (could not get in to the nice place recommended by A.’s giant FAQ of the neighborhood) and on the way back passed a super fancy barbershop. Perhaps Zond-7 will become Highly Groomed today. We have discussed the way that there is a Hoxton Haircut much as there is a Mission Hipster beard-groomed-look, and their finer points of difference.

I’d like to work somewhat minimal hours and go to the British Museum, and play catch-up tomorrow. tonight is a comedy show which has a bunch of Zond-7′s friends. Will I last out the day without collapsing or resorting to Vicodin and booze?

We haven’t really had any “holiday” yet – aside from a day or two of sleeping for 12 hours. It’s really ridiculous! But my work doesn’t end, and then I have to do at least minimal blogging of my life or I feel perturbingly out of control of reality. Zond-7 is also working and has to write and practice and give like 20 gajillion talks and on top of that just like I have to lie down a lot he has to sleep extra or he just stops functioning after a few days. We have similiar patterns in that we can work like dogs and push ourselves for about a 3-4 day limit and get an insane amount of things done and feel really good about ourselves and then we just fall over half-dead. Anyway, I feel a slight pang of regret that I won’t do at least a few touristy things while I’m over here.

As long as I hit the British Museum for half a day… though I could happily spend a week in there… and I’d like to spend another afternoon in the library with my feminist newspapers and Cuban poets… and I’d like to go work out of C.’s office and scan his bookshelves for my Bookshelf Analysis of Projected Contents of Brain.

Meanwhile I continue to enjoy the hell out of living in someone else’s house instead of a hotel.

Every time I walk up the stairs (UGH STAIRS but good for me) I see a new painting or poster on the wall. I try to see them all every time, but each time there’s one I haven’t noticed before!

I also really love the feeling of getting familiar with the immediate neighborhood. I know where the big cracks in the sidewalk are, and how the men yell at each other macho-ly on the tennis court in the little square, the sounds of the trucks and people going by with the wheels of their wheely suitcase things bumping along, where to buy juice and coffee, the different routes to walk to different places… A week is nearly long enough to develop pleasant habits.

The other night coming back rather late we were walking behind an older couple who were hand in hand, and somewhat hunched over. I thought touchingly of how sweet they were and wondered if I would someday be old and lovingly supported by and supporting someone as we wandered homeward late at night. I was trying to make up bits of their lives as we continued down the block in the dark. As we both turned around the corner of Ashe Square (Ashe Garden? something like that) my illusion was partially destroyed as the hunched-over woman burst into a sort of rollicking song, boozily slurring, like some total cockney-movie cliche, swaying on her little high heels, straightening up from under her old-lady sweater. “Lips like cherries….” the song got louder and louder in rude defiant enjoyment of life & drunkenness. The man threw her arm down and began to cuss her out loudly – walking ahead – also drunk as hell. I think he might have said something even more amazing than the song along the lines of “Awww, shurrup, ya ol’ bat!” From hilarity to being slightly appalled and madly curious about what if anything would happen I moved back to feeling sentimental about the old couple, trying not to outpace them so that i could hear the words to the song. Zond-7 said he knew the song but has forgotten what it was.

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Thoughts on Budapest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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To do list, with rewards


pool
Originally uploaded by Liz.

An online-friend who translated a long obscure poem I also translated is coming tomorrow! I’m excited to have someone to work with. We read each others’ versions of this poem and thought they would be improved by a mashup. So I think tomorrow will be lovely.

Charge, full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes, never mind maneuvers go straight at ‘em. My leg hurts a little but as usual in the morning I’m fired up, cheerful, and ready for action. Here’s what I’ll do today!

- clear out work inbox
- Wash sheets
- make bread (in bread machine, takes 10 min)
- show up at work 11am – 1pm
- go home, rest
- get out my translation project and give it a good 3 hours
- Clean my office (lick and promise)
- clear off the desk (cheat by stacking the papers)
- pick up Moomin and help him with homework
- obtain yogurt, eggs, pizza, carrots, parm. cheese, mozzerella, basil, tomatoes (get Rook to do this?)
- fold all the laundry (can be left for night)
- do a little more work at night so i am caught up and can slack off on Wednesday

I have no idea if me and the Other Translator will get along, but surely so. I spent a couple of years obsessing on this poet (J. de I.) and more time getting into the context of poetry in the early 20th century and the interconnections she had with other poets (mostly poets in Argentina, Spain, and France, but elsewhere in the Americas). Nobody else I’ve ever met particularly cares about this unfashionable poet. The Other Translator’s online work (her own poetry, I mean) is good, by which I mean that unlike most poetry it doesn’t make me want to barf or slap someone upside the head. That doesn’t mean we’ll be instant best friends and I don’t expect that, but it is one of my dreams to do good writerly collaborations with other people, and I think doing that with another poet is one of the nicest things possible. When I did with Yehudit it was like being in the poet-insanity of “flow” for days — intimate creativity. I hope she is a hard worker and likes to concentrate and that she will GO THERE.

The poem itself is dorky and lovely at the same time. It is J. de I. at her most high-falutin’ in her late-modernista-romanatic-gushing style, in fact her style of 1924 or 1930 but written more like 1969; a little preciously overwrought and frenchified in a long prose poem that I think is very Andre-Gide-ish. So if you picture someone who has been publishing since 1918, and put them in 1969, and she’s surveying her life as an artist, and trying to describe it in an extended conceit that she is on an island alone, shipwrecked… It is “uncool” in all the ways you might think but I love it.

So far instead of doing any of these things I have gossiped online with my sister and blogged all this. Still, I’m infused with happy confidence.

Onwards!

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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.

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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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