Posts Tagged ‘housework’

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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Garage Sale for Obama

I saw this flyer up on a post outside of the Safeway at 29th and Mission, a garage sale to raise money to give to the Obama campaign.

Garage Sale for Obama

The other day in a friend’s blog I noticed her thinking of saving money for some expensive Fluevog boots, but then she reconsidered and decided to give that money to the campaign instead.

I wear a size eight and covet these boots. How can I justify spending over three hundred dollars (that I could conceivably have in a month or so) on boots when I could give that money to the ” Obama FTW ” fund. Its true…. So maybe no boots for me right now. Woe.

Don’t they both seem like very Gen X middle class fundraising ideas, more than bake sales or auctions or whatever? It struck me as something I’ve never seen before.

Today I did a little housecleaning to get ready for Bork to come visit, finished reading I Am a Cat, thought more about Random Acts of Senseless Violence, had lunch with Bork who is here now, yay! Did a driving lesson with Zond-7 and we drove around Pee’s harbor and Ducktown Marina to look at what it is like to live there. Pee’s Harbor was more posh. Ducktown was more the sort of thing that appeals to me especially “Nancy and Jane’s garden” and how everything is a bit half-assed and jumbledy. Apparently the politics of Ducktown are: the owners are a big fancy trust, and want to sell. the people offering are offering a few million too low. Meanwhile there is Measure You-Know-What that defines that area as open space. How could they evict the people who have lived there for 30 years and have giant floating houses not just little boats on their bit of dock?

Then up to the city – rested – had dinner with vito_excalibur – went to SFinSF and liked nihilistic kid and dlevine’s stories – T.B. was very funny and scatterbrained – had a little of Vito’s whiskey – was in pain – didn’t know what to say to people who congratulated me on my verticality – gave out handfuls of Obama buttons. N.K.’s story was a Raymond Carver – HP Lovecraft mashup with 3 people drinking whiskey in a cave. I am sure Ken H. should read it if he hasn’t already. He must have? He’d like it. I shrieked “Wooooooo!!” way too loud when the chick took a mouthful of whiskey and there was mention of a lantern because I am a gamer and knew what was coming, but then felt silly. Then like 5 minutes later she spewed fiery death over a shoggoth and I was vindicated. At least vito got it. We gave dlevine hell teasing him about how he was flying colors (yay sf hanky code) but guessed his code slightly wrong. NK’s comments during the slightly doofusy “question and answer” period were awesome. Yay for people who make sense and are funny. At one point I just wanted to smack dlevine for his comments on the obviousness of deism and then his attempt at a save in saying some people did not think so but there was always room to change one’s mind. Boooo from the row of atheists! His story rocked – he read Charlie the Purple Giraffe, which I enjoyed. Zond-7 asked how one could sustain this sort of meta narrative for a much longer story which led us to some mention of Don Quixote, She-Hulk, and I brought up The Great Good Thing which while it has some twee elements was well done. Vito had some muttery comments about alternate histories and time travel and the point not being the Twist. I cannot remember the other people’s questions or comments all that well or if I do I will remain mercifully silent because some of them were embarrassingly silly. Saw Rina, J.W., klages, whump, cyn, nk’s friend who i can’t remember but who was introduced charmingly to me as my secret stalker, so I hope she comments somewhere, kate, and a jillion other people. Home, bed, merciful horizontalness, lovely warm electric blanket.

Also watched a ton of Sarah Haskins Target Women – go watch them – they’re great. The cleaning and yogurt ones were the funniest.

Tomorrow will do lots of hard work – Rook and Moomin are out camping for the rpg nerdy beach party – I will meet up later on with them and Bork – I’d like to go to the Emperor Norton party at Borderlands for a bit but it might depend on working on the book and how much I get done.

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Russian gangsters and Japanese philosophers, side order of trauma

Life has been a curious mixture lately with a bit of horrible intense drama and a bit of slack and routine, cramps and whining and sleeping late; yet as usual, though I think I’ve been doing nothing, when I look back and count up, everything seems so full, so good, so luminous. I feel like I’m riding a giant wave, exhilarating, heady with power. I have worked long days with the good feeling of knowing what I’m doing, being useful. I’ve had some bad days physically, and emotionally, but also, kept my shit together, and have a brain full of ideas and books. What I love, I love to be thinking and getting new information, playing, talking, looking at things with my awareness open. This week despite emotional lows I am full of poetry… I am Having an Interesting Life I suppose…

I’m reading a fantastic book that the SkaRat recommended to me, called I Am A Cat, published in 1905. It’s so good! It’s hilarious & sad. The introduction laid out charmingly how the author- Soseke Natsume – was something of a failure in his career & as a scholar – his teaching career sort of crappy – his pittance of a scholarship to go to London – which he mostly failed at because he hid in his room for 2 years doing nothing but reading a ton of books. OMG… my kind of person. It is all the cat’s pomposity and charm as he observes Human Nature… the scribblings of his human & the funny (catty!) conversations of the slack-ass scholar’s obnoxious, pretentious, half-assed friends. I keep thinking that surely the different characters sketched out must be making fun of particular figures from some intellectual scene in Japan at the time. I love the translation… it flows beautifully and succeeds in being funny (or at times in conveying that something complicated has just happened that would be funnier in Japanese, which as a translator, I appreciate).

I am also still reading the Crypt0 book but it is lost in the house somewhere. It is very good. Though… has that annoying golly-gee drooling P0 Br0nson flavor to it where you just want to go, Jesus, get a room already with your dreamy-eyed hacker boys. At least it does make it clear – the homosocial nature of geek culture. It was odd to read of what’s his face staying in McC’s house where I worked too. I could picture it (not the specific physical setting – I mean that I know the atmosphere well.) It explained some things to me about the feeling of working there and what was expected – expectations that one would have a sort of salon of underemployed geniuses who do your domestic labor and settle in a bit like extended family – not that I don’t appreciate some of the judgements and sentiments of that – but a fate I would particularly like to avoid from either side of the equation, underemployed genius side, or benevolent salon-aspiring employer whose homoerotic bonding time period had sadly passed with N. and M. in the late 50s and early 60s. Honestly the more I contemplate that looming fate for myself the more I want to do it co-op style or not at all. Anyway, read Crypt0 book and besides the actual ideas, thought of the cultural phenomenon where you do what RS4 did and ride your collective exhilarating wave of thought & collaboration, but it is not permanent, like having a brilliant rock band, and you may never get that synergy again in life, which seems awfully melancholy. One would just refuse to believe it.

My other book has been Godfather of the Kremlin which ummm what’s his name in Brussels recommended during a moment when I felt like there was no possible conversational topic since I was not really part of their work meeting, did not share their wonky knowledge of their topic, and did not want to talk about myself, so I asked this obviously interesting person what unusually good books he woudl recommend. It was this one. I’m enjoying it greatly… it’s super business-politics wonky and explains Russia in the 90s and specifically how Berezovsky and other capitalist gangsters looted the country during privatization… the whole thing with the vouchers is so horribly fucked up.. and I was deadly fascinated with the aeroflot story – the textbook case of how to loot a company you don’t own.

The emotional stuff has been difficult, I have felt intense about my physical issues and had a lot more pain this week, and also, had some fights with Rook over things, which brought up more issues for me than I know how to rightly deal with myself. It kind of brought up old family issues for me. I have particular difficulties when people are angry with me. Oh, can’t I be a grownup and not think back on things that happened over 20 years ago — haunted by ghosts? I understand ghosts now. I am happy with myself- and yet – not. Also, trying to face the ways in which I am, actually, an asshole. That’s hard! Rook is also very stressed in his job and this is his last week. He quit! I’m so glad he did, and think it is the right decision. I find it fairly easy to talk about most of my emotional problems or issues or dilemmas but he does not and I did not realize what he has been through. I also felt like, last year, with my health problems, I wanted him to have more support, he did not, I did not know how to provide it, I had my own issues and needed emotional support which he didn’t really know how to do either. I hope that is clear, yet vague… I was caught up in my loop of cranky pain, hating myself for not being able to be happy and full of attention and cheerful – hot and sweaty – upset with life – thining that i have not done enough – and that if I am in pain now, I might be in more tomorrow, or unable to even get up and therefore i should use the last of my strength to clear the laundry off the floor and make the room less disgusting – in case I am stuck in it for days – and thus trying to chivvy everyone else around me suddenly to clean and wanting to cry at being The Nag and also full of resentment at needing or wanting help and/or at years when it was my job to do the housework – And the reality of it is that we screamed at each other at the top of our lungs about housework… I am embarrassed… and that spilled over into arguing about everything – but I need to talk about it. I think we made it up and had a good conversation. And for some people that might be normal and part of life, but for me, not. Meanwhile I thought lately that things were calmer with a person who I mortally offended last year causing endless drama and pain, and yet who will not attempt to work that out with me in any way. I wish we could just sit down and talk. Or, if not, then I wish she would step off, keep her emotional pain to herself, and not lay it on me and people close to me. For various reasons, we are peripheral to each others’ lives. And we have to accept that and negotiate some way to tolerate that. That’s what I think. I can do it if they can. But, terribly, I feel that unholy feeling that something is being projected as being part of me, when it is actually that other person. In other words, that they have major boundary problems and the exact problems they have, they are attributing to me, and that, somehow, while not my Fault really, is partly because of my own strong personality, stubbornness, and what is either my assholishness or shininess depending; so that I am horribly aware that if I were somehow Lesser of a person, there would not be a problem; yet because this other person and I are both rather Rocketship in our approach to life, they bristle and cannot tolerate and I bristle and cannot back down.

I admire an uncompromising, unconventional person who has a strong personality, very much, often even when they position themselves in opposition to me or they clearly hate me or find me annoying as all fuck. A person who insults me, I can often look past the insult, and see the information. I also have Theories about how as a society we need people who don’t have great filters and who ignore social cues. I am one of them… But you know, some people are more extreme than me…. I appreciate what is good about them. Holy crap though, I don’t mean anything bad. If I’m offending, just tell me to my face… would the world end?

Other people have their own childhood-families and their own ghosts and histories… I am aware… So I will think about my responses to anger (paralysis, trapped, need to flee… flight reflex… ) and try to be easy on a person who has their own baggage, that I might trigger. But, it is not fair to the person triggering it, not to tell them or talk to them. I can’t erase myself, and won’t go away. The things thrown at me or accusations — and the tangible results of that — bring up my own irrational painful issues; abandonment in general. Therefore it seems logical to attempt negotiation, even if that is crazy moon language. Though I would just plain like the chance to explain myself, I would also willingly shut up and listen, not say anything, go away and think about it, and try not to go on the defensive etc. I see no need to hash it all out, but to establish reasonable boundaries, and what are the actual goals of talking at all. I do not expect some buddy buddy outcome here. I just want not to cause suffering to a person, and not to suffer their emotional outbursts and the effect direct or indirect they have on my life. I feel okay that I am saying this on my blog, and that I called the person to make the direct and sincere offer of “let’s talk”.

Meanwhile. Moomin has had “camp” which is really just day care, at his old school from a year ago, and though I thought he would find it boring, he seems to be having fun playing that he is squirrels with Jos3lyn and Mar1s0l and their entourage, and in the corners of time, reading Nancy Drew books. I had a call that he bumped his head, during a meeting at work, and ducked out to hear him sobbing with ice on his head, could tell he was okay but rattled, went to get him, admired the enormous bump on his head as he ran around and begged me to stay just long enough to have the ice cream sundaes… and enjoyed seeing the kids myself that I used to play board games with at recess… J0anna and the others…. I thought of M4rcus who was the most hawk like of them all and full of scorn and who could almost beat me at chinese checkers. (I would not insult him by letting him win – he was too smart not to see through that and be offended.) I miss getting to be a little bit involved at the school.

It has been 100 degrees or over – unbearable in the house – I got home today from SF, got the old library books, picked up Moomin (braving the horrible hill) and took him to the library. Worked a bit – looked up books with him – the Pilot met us there with Peanut who wants to play computer games – Moomin found a Nancy Drew and several books with magic & dragons in them – Maybe I can make it a custom to go there with him in the evening one night a week and just sit and read. We all went to the new Japanese restaurant on Main and Rook met us there. It’s not really very good… alas… I would not go there again … H1guma is still best in town. We had a nice dinner though. Moomin is eating more foods. He gets into the idea that it is korean food (will eat kim bap, fried tofu, the pickled gourd or radish thingies, and the other day with me and Rook at the korean restaurant in mtn. view he wanted to learn to read hangul characters. I am happy he has an interest but mostly just happy he will now eat more than 10 different things, 5 of them fruit.

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Do you tuck in the string, or what?

I remember reading Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying when I was about 16 and during the scene where she’s lying in the bath looking down at her body she lists all her parts as if to say “I’m so bold and daring and Liberated to describe myself looking at my naked body” and then she gets to her tampon string gently floating in the water and I went WHAT? Why would anyone wear a tampon in the bathtub? A few minutes later after thinking about it I realized maybe most everybody was super uptight about it and did and might think me disgusting or strange for bleeding giant clots all into my bathwater.

So do you wear tampons in the bathtub? If so, or if not, please explain.

The other thing wrong with the picture of Jong’s protagonist — if she did have a tampon in, for god’s sake why did she not tuck in the string?

I had that thought and then realized maybe no one did. But if you let your tampon string fly free and all, how do you not pee on the string? And wouldn’t that be gross? Then the pee would sort of travel up the string into the main body of the tampon. While pee isn’t really that gross in the first place, and, like some ovens, vaginas are self-cleaning, I don’t really want a bunch of pee fermenting with the blood up there.

So: your assignment: do you tuck in the string or not? Does that fill you with horror? What about the whole bathtub question?

This post has been brought to you by the late night and a glass of wine. And so to bed.

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Books, work, rock band, music stolen

Every time I get my computer on my lap and kick back to blog all I can do is start to slog through the endless help desk emails for work. The harder problems build up and build up. I get obsessed with fixing them though I have to learn how to say “No, sorry, can’t help you here.” They never stop! It’s not just too much work, it’s also killing my blogging because if I’m on the computer I feel like I should be “catching up”. I can’t let that happen. Not sure what to do about it. We could outsource. “Sorry, beyond the scope we can do for you, but you could pay so-and-so 30 bucks an hour to do it.” That would be a relief and would get people’s problems solved. These are people who need web design support and whose work is *great* – I want to support it. That’s where it gets me!

So in an effort not to work ALL THE TIME I have been reading a bit more. I caught up with some of my blogfriends on LJ (after weeks… months?). I read the last Hostile Takeover book – more about that in a minute. I did some cleaning and gardening (and when Moomin gets back will read more out loud to him.)

Tonight was fun – Zond-7 and I went to a game night – Played Settlers – and a bit of Rock Band. I liked playing bass. What a party – with a wii, some other game console thing, rock band, several board games, a lot of beer & wine, and a crowd of raucous geeks.

My morning was stressful – I was hauling ass to get to work – and my car window was broken. All the cars on the block had windows smashed – My giant book of favorite CDs was stolen – knew I shouldn’t keep it in there – I will try not to miss it but got a little upset over the hard to find venezuelan and cuban stuff. I had resolved to only keep cds I ahd burned in the car – but didn’t stick to it – to the tune of probably 50 cds which built up to be all my favorites. Plus, mix cds other people made for me. I am trying to be detached about it. It’s just stuff. But, music is stuff I hate to lose because it’s memory, it’s the keys to the database of emotions across many years. Sometimes I get deeply melancholy for no reason but in a way that can only be fixed by driving while listening to that one gospel song and crying as I think of the weeks that that song was my only outlet & solace for my horrible feelings on my last breakup – Or joyous in a way that goes with a particular ska CD – Oh – well – I will make new CDs – and at some point will benefit from figuring out which cases are empty and either replacing with digital music or new import cds or THROWING THE CASES AWAY. (I have just remembered the name of that gospel song – “Unconditional” – from a compilation.)

I then hauled ass to tape up my window with a trash bag to try to make it to a meeting, but realized as I got into the car that it would be a bad idea to drive down 101 without being able to see out my side window. It was a sort of survival reflex – like if I were going to lose my job for being late to work, that’s what i would have done – but as I started to do it I realized I’m not in that position, it was not a situation of extreme crisis, and it would be smarter to fix the window!

At the auto glass place (very close! lucky!) my credit cards didn’t go through and there was a bad feeling in the air suddenly as they got suspicious of me. DRAMA… I called my cards (both from one bank, a card and my atm/credit card) & no problem there. The guy didn’t believe me though I offered the phone to him and pointed out the little credit card box-thing said “connection failed” not “card declined” and it was not that I had no money. We went round for a bit because I could not walk as far as the nearest atm that he described – and I did not want to wheel there (somewhat up hill, not sure how far it was really, sounded exhausting). Finally he agreed I would leave one card with him and drive away to the ATM. Just as I was driving off he realized the credit card thing was plugged into the same thing as his phone, which was accidentally left off the hook… HA.

I felt like getting back into bed!

Instead I went to get a sandwich – and after I came out realized I’d left my car running and the door unlocked! OMG!

At that point (now hours later) I decided not to go to the office – and worked from here instead – it was all just too much – plus a 40 minute commute would have just taken away good working time.

Ended up at lunch with a bunch of people from Zond-7′s work and hearing a lot of interesting stuff about Deadweight loss (which was fucking fascinating), monopolies, anti-trust stuff, DRM, talked about all that and about spam, email costs, music industry, and I talked some with the visiting economist dude about the internet ad market. ie. how any blog ad company competes with Google Ads. Good question! Lots of people do, though. It is like the contrast between … well if you had *very small billboards* stuck everywhere kind of randomly but in relation to each thing it was stuck on, like if every parking meter displayed postage-stamp sized ads for parking garages, or every tree by the sidewalk had an index card explaining where to buy trees, vs. there being a public park set up specially with all kinds of ever-changing information about trees and fun things to do in the park. What is more satisfying – making a park and maintaining it and visiting parks & gardens – or wandering around staring at parking meters and smog-ravaged acacias. It is my day of Homely Metaphors as I also had a giant funny picture in my head about the proprietary Egg that you were only legally allowed to cook in special Sony Egg Cookers, it being illegal to invent or sell frying pans even for your own use at home, and the deadweight loss being all the people who might have cooked and ate a fucking egg if not for the $200 Sony Egg Cooker being too expensive, and the Eggs all sprayed with protective anti-frying-pan anti-cracking spray, and no regular eggs in stores since the big chain stores had a special deal with Sony to sell only Eggs not eggs, and the egg industry suffering horribly as a result. (BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHICKENS, for god’s sake? Pay the chickens with special internet micropellets… okay I’ll stop now…) Then was further picturing the proprietary House, in which you were only allowed to put Furniture specially built by Company X (this, while we were talking about tie-ins) which further locks you in to buy only Houses built by company X in future because you’ve invested so much in Company X Furniture. A bad idea for eggs, furniture, houses, real estate agents, department stores, and right-thinking people everywhere.

Then I laid on the couch and worked for many hours!

It was nice to be around people and have a beer tonight after all that!

So back to Revolutionary, the last book in the Hostile Takeover trilogy. I liked it – although one female character DID go into a coma it was not for the whole book, she was doing stuff and having conversations in imaginary nano-telepathy-hacker-head world while she was out cold.

SPOILERS!!!!!! WARNING!!!

She doesn’t die and the end isn’t all about her incredibly bad-idea romance. Throughout the bad-idea romance she keeps asking Dom and herself, “Why do I even like you? Why am I so obsessed with you? You’re kind of a jerk!” It doesn’t get glossed over! It’s a really good point! Others explain to her that it’s wartime and that can happen easily – there are some other reasons – some explored and some perhaps not (ie her ambivalent feelings about being genetically engineered to bond with computers and machines, and his being like 90% cybernetic complete with extra computer in his brain.) Then instead of swooping in and rescuing her and knocking her up or something… he DIES. TWICE. That was so satisfying! OMG! Actually it might have been more than twice – he kept getting eaten by nanobots, and shot in the face, and then coming back from it somehow, until you were ready to strangle the fucker with your bare hands. DIE DIE DIE! and then… score… he totally died AND his time-travel extra self also died. Awesome!

So, even better than that — it was like candy — The butch as hell ex-Marine traitor Kathy Shane, who got her legs blown off and who is NOT plucky or spunky at all, has lots more angsty and in fact, PTSD-ish moments contemplating (and glorifying) the grave of Mary Houghton (who was her captive and who escaped super cleverly – the art history major and painter and tough Marine who goes spelunking for alien artifacts – and instead of DYING as one somewhat expected her to from the very first – as so many good female characters do – instead she thinks about another (female) character and acts on her thoughts in a consistent interesting way. sorry to gush, it’s just rare to see male sf writers get anything like this right, so I was excited and so pleased not to have to hate the book sighing in disgust even as I enjoyed the space opera bits. More spoilers – so, then Shane ends up finding new purpose in life. Notably she keeps her religion, abandons her military loyalties (though is still devastated by exile and by her continuing guilt over betraying her people – her military subordinates) and completely abandons her political loyalties to a particular planet or state. AND… goes off WITH THE HACKER SPY CHICK into space with the alien star map and a giant colony ship. How can I even talk about this without spoilers? I’ll give it a shot and put it up on the feministsf blog!

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Dead dirt

Besides reading and housework I need some excuse to look away from the computer. Now that I’m up and out of bed more, maybe a little garden tending?

I am eyeing spots for compost that is very near my door, and one or two areas also close and easy to water where I can rehabilitate the soil. The long dry season here and the tough rocky soil made from decayed serpentinite combine to make it easy for the dirt to die, in other words, for the worms to leave, the fungi to quit threading their little riots of mycelia, & microbes all dormant so that you could set an apple out in that dirt and nothing would happen to it for weeks.

dead dirt

I used to really like the process of composting, balancing out a compost pile and watching it cook. I produce a steady stream of coffee grounds and eggshells. For leaves we could shred paper. It would be good to have a little pile of dirt and leaves to start with or a trench for burying stuff.

Though the goal is to get myself off the computer and into the physical world, god knows if I don’t blog it I might not stick with it and even then… it’s chancy.

My other project is to get rid of books. I thought that I could start by blogging brief notes on a bunch of heavy literary theory books, so that I remember what I had and read and knew and could find it again if I wanted. Then it won’t be so painful to give away the books.

Fixing broken things, making bare dirt turn fertile with weeds or fruit, nursing half-dead houseplants thrown away in the trash, all those things give me particular pleasure. Then later the triumph over deadness of running my fingers through the soil, easy home for worms, made from waste and trash. It’s like shaking my fist at the world. It brings out all my stubbornness.

I stayed home from Naomi Novik’s reading at Borderlands – last few readings there were so crowded and I couldn’t take it in the wheelchair in a crowd after this weekend! I am sure she was lovely – I will write a review of Victory of Eagles to make up for not going.

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Verticality, mostly

I am taxed with explaining my physical state by various friends online and offline. There is not a lot to tell. I am still going up and down in both pain and functioning. The ups are steadily further up. The downs are still down, but not so bad, and haven’t been too lengthy. So, last week (or was it the week before?) I had a couple, three bad days in a row, using my wheelchair in the house, staying in bed most of the time, and barely leaving the house. I had other days, in the past few weeks, of minimal activity, but able to walk around the house for food, bathroom, doing the laundry, and driving to pick up Moomin. I had a cold for a week. So, I worked from home for two and a half weeks, figuring to save the walking energy for housework.

The “up” days were fabulous, where I could not only do all the housework, walking around the house free but felt perfectly able to do a couple of blocks on crutches.

On Sunday I drove across SF and then walked with crutches across a whole giant supermarket and half a parking lot. Then I managed to get down a sandy cliff trail (not very long, but still, would have been impossible a few months ago) with crutches and sliding on my butt. I laid on the beach. My legs were spasming horribly by that point. But, I made it back up with no functional problem, just pain. Then stairs! (You see how different this is, and how encouraging!) Then I collapsed and cried and stayed in bed, unable to get my leg to stop cramping, unable to deal even with the thought of getting in and out of the bathtub, much less any more stairs or driving. In the morning, I was mostly better, with residual pain and leg cramps. It was the cramp/pain of exhaustion much like I had last fall — but, last fall I had that complete exhaustion even if I walked to the bathroom, I guess because of the Lyrica and Baclofen and a general downhill slide.

I am mostly still in the wheelchair for any distances over one block, or if there are hills, or if I am going into a store or a bar or an event where there might be standing-in-line or standing at all.

I give myself little challenges like, “Park and walk to the ATM without crutches”. I feel a little unsteady when I come out of the car. The curb (or ramp) is hard and I want to hang onto something. In the house, I am more confident, and pop up from resting in bed to lope about. It is a good home rhythm, bed/reading/writing/working, up for 10 minutes to do things, down again, recharge, up again.

Right now I would like to be in the wheelchair around the house, but I don’t want to in front of my mom-in-law because it feels like she would judge me somehow negatively. It doesn’t make sense, but there it is. Most of the day, I used the chair, but I walked a lot around the office at work. I am in pain enough that I would like to get up and wash my face and get a drink. But, I am putting it off hoping the pain will be less in a little while. If I wait till I have to pee, then I can get up and do all those things in one trip and lie down again.

I’d put myself at maybe a 5 – 7 on the Kurtze Expanded Disability Status Scale, up from the really yucky time last fall when it was more like 6 – 8.3.

Have I been back to the doctor? No… I feel like I should, but I can’t bear it.

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I will turn into a wheely snowbird

The sun today baked me into more cheerfulness and mobility. I walked and sat up a lot more. I helped a little with cleaning the hot tub (which Zond-7′s nephew Monkey MindWind did very nicely!) and I did some excellent Discardia in the kitchen with Minnie.

It was awful yesterday to realize that I had not left the house or gotten up from bed really except to take Moomin to school and pick him up. Yesterday was a low point as I could barely walk at all. I was back in the wheelchair in the house. I had some emotions around that. I felt slow, creaky, painful, weepy, spaced-out, and got into a mindset where all I could think of to do was to escape as hard as I could into thinking, reading, writing, getting out of my body. I think it was stress, and exhaustion, but mostly it was the cold, rainy weather coming back this weekend and persisting all week. Hands, toes, knees, back, and my terribly painful leg-on-fire. I laid in bed trying not to cry, and finally took some Vicodin. I can’t cope with doing all the things Moomin expects, like sitting next to him while he has his bath. (Cold, wet, stiff, bending over, unable to pay attention). But, we have both been enjoying spending extra time instead, lying in bed reading and talking about all sorts of things.

Today it was warm again, and I expanded in the sun, uncoiling myself from bed, extending in all directions… Ungrumpified.

I feel intensely grateful that I have my marvellous chair, that it is so light and small and wonderful.

This might seem odd, but I cried when I saw this:

After thinking about it for a while, I realized what it was I was feeling. I thought of my early days of Usenet and of the philosophy that “on the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” People would say things (and in fact, I recall writing things) about how great it was that women could hide that they were women, so that they could get treated without prejudice; it “leveled the playing field”. Oh, joy, we can all just pretend to be men – what a great solution! (Not.) And I certainly have read people saying how great it is that on the internet you don’t have to show that you are disabled. Fine… if that is what you feel like doing. But, on both counts, what I feel is a strong current of wanting to Be Myself, perhaps also an odd thing for someone writing under a (tissue-thin) veil of pseudonymity. As I cried looking at the picture of the GimpGirl community women in Second Life, I realized what I felt was pride, the sort of pride I felt at Gay Pride Parades; I was proud and filled with love for the women with the wheely avatars and the ones with white-tip canes, and the way they presented, at their self-expression. I know that most able bodied people imagine that given half a chance to present as “normal” or able like them, we would all jump at it. And they would not understand that it is just part of our concept of self and part of our reality.

In any case, I had a nice day with people, and a nice time with S. last night, and Monkey MindWind is around, but I am still a little lonely and melancholy. It is nothing against my friends but I realize I only get to hang out with other disabled people online and that is a problem. I looked for support or social groups or something last year, but never found anything. Instead, reading other disabled bloggers has been something I lean on very hard.

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Robot dinosaurs and videos of books

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

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

The morning was busy but very nice.

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

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

pleo nuzzling olpc

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

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

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

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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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