Posts Tagged ‘music’

Feeling low

I’m feeling a bit low energy from being sick for so long. I have either some lingering annoying bronchitis or really really hair-trigger asthma left over from the bronchitis or both.

As I lie here working and reading blogs and listening to music, I’m fairly content but then it’s like the wall goes down, some kind of wall between between me and all the times I’ve fucked up and disappointed other people. Past failures are playing over and over in my head. I think of whole communities I was close to, that treated me so well, like I was a minor rising star or at least a promising talented person, and somehow… I’d just drop the ball and drift away. How many times has this happened! And how bitter it is when I not only do that, but someone then writes me to explain how I let them down.

Nothing in particular sparking this, I’m just annoyingly ill and my parents were visiting. I’m reading a lot and playing Galcon in odd moments.

Emotional flatness… or meltdown. Not a fun choice!

Here I am in bed being vaguely pissed off at the world, with a nasty headache.

i am so sick of being sick

Cheeriest music of the day: The Kabeedies…

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12 days of Internet Freedom!

Donate to the Electronic Frontier Foundation! A membership makes a good gift, and you get a nifty tshirt as well. See my awesome “Defend Bloggers’ Rights” tshirt in the header photo? Well that’s an EFF tshirt, and you can have one too if you go right now and fork over some money, then wear it with pride!

Fair Users Empowered
Fair use law protects your ability to use copyrighted material for commentary, criticism, parody, research and beyond. In 2008, EFF took on large and small entities who tried to use copyright to chill speech — from music labels to diamond companies to land developers to tech companies and even psychic Uri Geller — and defended your right to mash-up, remix and create in the modern digital world.


Learn more about this video and support EFF!

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What I think of in the bath

Moments where the heights of luxury hit me; I live like this!

With all the history I’ve read, and all the fantastic future histories, I’m dizzied that at this particular moment, I can summon enough just-so-temperatured, perfumed, clean-enough-to-drink water to cover my body, and have the leisure to lie in it, with food and a book at hand, with music playing, with a wealth of culture a snap of my fingers away, in this decadent privacy and peace, free from fear, secure in control, able to move around as I please, absentmindedly rubbing green tea and fennel lotion into my hair. I am a magician – Can this be real? How did this happen? Can it last? Might this, as I have thought many times before, be the pinnacle of physical experience of my life? How is it that I have all this? That we have all this?

A moment where I don’t take it for granted, where I acknowledge this ordinary moment of a daily hot bath is an amazing luxury I am lucky to experience at all.

coffee and book in jacuzzi

How very odd – Roman emperors or Trimalchio really could not have it any better – How smug we are and how tiny a blip in history – and how sure we are that it is deserved, permanent, this hot bath – I think the same when I eat a sandwich in the back yard – It is what we die for really – for someone’s right to this peaceful back yard or miracle bathtub. Part liberty, part theft. What splendor. No wonder we hardly know what to do with ourselves, emperors lacking any good citizen-ish Mirror for Princes. A funny picture as I consider Roman cities: thunk, the public park and fountain is plunked down in our utopian sim city grid and the people stop their riots.

Often I think of myself as an anarchist, but I am politically naive and lazy enough to have never examined or defined my political beliefs. The most glaring inner contradiction has always seemed to be my love of, and belief in, virtuous and stable institutions and laws, which I somehow cherish along with a strong tendency to veer off in order to disrupt institutions that aren’t or that I think aren’t. I was struck by this bit of tonight’s book; it’s near the end of Godfather of the Kremlin, after long exposure of corruption, embezzling, capital flight, murder and greed:

Private property or free markets alone do not guarantee a high level of civilization. Even the most impoverished countries have private property and free markets. What they lack is a healthy state and a healthy society. Today these are the two essential preconditions for civilization.
There are several salient characteristics defining a healthy state: a good legal code and the means to enforce it; the equality of all citizens before the law and the state; a sound financial basis allowing for the provision of such public goods as national defense, law enforcement, transportation, education, medical care, and pensions; an efficient and effective government apparatus. A healthy state is uncorrupted by wealthy individuals, powerful businessmen, or special-interest groups; it is an honest broker for all the conflicting interests of society. Finally, a healthy state protects the weak from predation by the strong.

This calls out to the bits of my middle-class and civic-minded soul that believe in such things. The root of the non-contradiction is that I believe it could be achieved by anarchic means. Maybe. Given some ideal state of beginning, or anarchic-alientech-ex-machina, or that proper nucleation that crystallizes and spreads that we like to imagine could be just around the corner.

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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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On Sunday Dinners, Cities, Pubs, Middle and Old Age

I have various observations from my trip, written on the plane from Heathrow to LAX in a 5am delirium.

Out of London
We packed, cleaned, and got on a train to Ch3lmsford to visit Z.’s family, for Sunday dinner. Everything still seemed new to my eyes as we left London and forayed out into fields and suburbs. J. picked us up at the station to drive us the long way round through a Sc4recrow Fete (the first time I’ve heard anyone say that word aloud, I think) which I didn’t care about though the drive was nice. What I was really looking at was how people set up their houses and gardens, at shop fronts and billboards; they all reminded me of the rural bits of R.I. in New England near where I grew up in the summers. The architecture (maybe the time period) of the buildings was the same in some subtle way I couldn’t pin down that wasn’t just about snow and being built of bricks.

The Rules of (not) Saying Hello
I had another observation of going through streets and train stations. I had read in Watching the English that people don’t say hello to strangers and in fact they don’t even look at you in the face or nod – it feels wrong and rude to do that, but it is my instinct because in the U.S. if you are walking past someone in a long corridor or on the street you would at least meet eyes and give a little nod as you pass and you might say “how’re you” or “good morning” in a perfunctory way to someone in an elevator. Certainly in Latino neighborhoods, “how are you/como está” or you are eye-rollingly rude. Here in London I think that would be a sign of madness, over-familiarity that might be a dangerous challenge or open hostility, as if by boldly meeting someone’s eyes, you might be about to steal someone’s wallet — like gorillas smiling to bare their teeth. This puts people in a bind, as they become disconcerted around me and want to leap to open a door or see if I need help but they are prevented from speaking to me by the Rules of Not Saying Hello. It’s extremely amusing!

the pleasures of essex
So, back to the pleasures of Essex, which the saying of the name to anyone carries a load of irony and meaning which I don’t understand but which is equivalent of bemoaning the fact of having come from Modesto, or Nebraska, a flat boring place full of sameness, hay, and hicks. To my eyes it was perfectly new, picturesque, with tall grass or wheat in the fields, little fields charmingly separated by lines of trees or hedges rather than the very ugly barbed wire or chain link I would expect, roads that had character and curve from organic and long development rather than being laid out by a surveyor’s line in an “empty” land seized all at once, parceled out and fenced. The suburbanness I found oddly reassuring as after all I am mostly a suburban creature. So the malls and the equivalent of big-box stories and in fact the very boringness of things were all interesting especially as I considered the things alike in Z. and I and in how deeply he must have chafed at growing up there with his dreamy nervous energy and free roaming thoughts and desire for companionship, for social quickness of mind, and whatever else drives him or drove him then — as I did in the distant outskirts of Houston with its miles and miles of cowfields, metal-buildinged strip malls, and housing developments. (At least he had buses and trains! My god!) The narrow scope of the world and yet thick material comforts, mixed, bourgeois paradise, with definite allure.

Parsnips are the bomb
Immune to family weights and subtleties or nearly so (and securely knowing I could not possibly come off worse than particular others even if I was gauche and also, scandalously married; plus i hosted his family at my house; plus, they are just nice) I had a really lovely time, one of the best dinners ever with actual roast beef carved in slices along with at least 6 kinds of boiled vegetables (which seemed nearly unbearably exotically English like what people eat IN BOOKS) and including PARSNIPS which I don’t think I’ve ever seen and which I could not stop devouring – they were so delicate and faintly caramelized – better than yams and almost as good as plantains. AND apple crumble with … custard sauce? and TRIFLE. I tried to act casual but I know Z. knew how funny and exciting it was. Again, please imagine if you can possibly how strange this was. So aside from my marvelling at how stereotypes and things in books really are true, and my absolute & embarrassing uncontrollable greed for parsnips and custard (separately), one of the more pleasant things was how alike his family’s Sunday dinner was to my mom’s families’ sunday dinners (though we had our own Exotic Stereotype of incredibly great Italian food) at the leaf in the table, the lace tablecloth on top, and how the extended family would stay and play cards far into the night. (Though his did not, it had that feeling like they might have 30 years ago.) I missed his nephew (the MindWind Monkey) and worried over him in the hospital. His other (charming) nephew had a fine time with me and my amazing TWO COMPUTERS and my willingness to learn from him how to play Runescape at least long enough to get his other character online to pass some coveted black armor and a Staff of Air back and forth. (I killed some giant spiders and goblins.) I nearly fell asleep on the couch (and Z. fell asleep upstairs) which shows you how nice they all are (that no one really minded and that one feels comfy and at home enough to do so.) His mum gave us about 40 cadbury bars (I will grow out of this set of pants, dammit.) I liked his sisters especially the one I talked with more, and his teenage niece. Then we had a brief foray off to his dad’s house…

The life of the sunday dinner
Despite loving the visit I have to say that at my (finally true) nearing 40 and feeling like an actual grown-up, I have grown into a person who is relieved not to have a lot of burden of family no matter how nice. I felt no impulse to fulfill any role in their family really or to be specially dutiful (or in anyone’s) and felt satisfied we had not been lured into staying with family (and that I avoid staying with my own though I know that sounds a bit sad) I like to see them and to be friends with them but I really fiercely like to have my own life and complete independence of movement including not being pressured. I thought of course of Moomin and my own life and what my future might be like and how odd it would be for him to be grown, maybe seeing me once a year for a day or two, and I hope we will be closer than that. But, I do see the way people aren’t, and how many of my peers have parents who had such different expectations — they wanted the life with the Sunday Dinner, with extended family across generations getting together regularly, to cook and preside over the table benevolently — to shop and to help — to know the intimate concerns of their adult childrens’ lives. And, that has never been what I chose as an adult. The times I’ve tried it have been a strain. You know the feeling when you are just uncomfortable in your own skin – it is something like that. I feel for the frustrated dreams of the parents who saw themselves as beautiful and benevolent, generous and beloved patriarchs and matriarchs, but it doesn’t work out that way very often, maybe. As I mulled this over on the train on the way back I thought that my picture of myself as an older woman say 30 years from now does include (as I have remarked to my friend wild_irises) that I’d like to have cross generational friendships, to know and listen to people younger than me; and to be useful to them; I hope that will include my child and nephews and nieces and godchildren but it kind of doesn’t have to be them, or me for them, if that makes any sense. And also thinking of wild_irises’s way of having once a month sunday-at-home; very nice; I am not all that good at sustaining structured things; but I do host role-playing game groups which is incredibly nice, and, especially dear to me, having small swarms of kids have the free run of the house and yard (though again, it is also nice when they go…)

Where to be when older
I also continue to think that I will be happiest as I get older in cities, close to the center of things, public transport, good services, and (possibly most importantly) able to just see the daily life of many different people around me. I love to see people on the street, to look out the window and watch them going about their business. How stifling it is in the deep suburbs (not where I live now, but in Houston or Chelmsford’s semi-rural edges), with tiny glimpses of a neighbor perhaps once a week but no real bustle, no feeling part of a mysterious hive of life and purpose.

Rich neighborhoods can suck
Back in London, we switched sadly from A. and C.’s marvellous cosy be-Washleted rooftop-garden flat in Hoxton to the sterile absurd confines of the conference hotel, a scungy Holiday Inn in South Kensington which appeared to me as a hell of tourist-fouled bland international-mall-block overpriced theater-going pretentiousness. (Admittedly the Nathan Barley (or earlier incarnation, Cunt) population of Hoxton was high but still, it was nice and it felt *normal and human* like actual people actually live there.) Anyway, South Kensington. I’m sure I would like going to all the museums but, stay away from the embarrassing awful hotels. How nasty the Holiday Inn was, a little bit of importation of the worst of “America” with its ugly veneers and shoddy conveniences that utterly weren’t.

The conference itself fascinated me and I took extensive notes. (Z. wrote it up for the Ir1sh T1mes so you may go read his summary if you like. He was up all night in a fervor and is asleep on my shoulder in the plane; I had coffee and can’t sleep on planes anyway; thus this blog post.) I went to a half day each day and worked the rest of the time. I have massive notes from conference. Not written up yet. Notable was the home office guy, and the BP1 somewhat shark-like dude and his flunky who quizzed me on whether I download music illegally.

Monday night we went to dinner with S. who was nice, funny, and a bit pleasantly sleazy (like I can talk – I am notorious – and had a hard time not escalating to out do his stories – but could easily, without breaking a sweat). We talked about Internetty things, speculating, analyzing, predicting, trying to be wild-eyed but not quite hyped up or comfortable enough to get to that golden land of prophecy & inspiration. (Dinner was fantastic; can’t believe we lived a few blocks from Cay Tre all week and didn’t know to go there! Will amend C and A.’s house-sitting FAQ! Catfish in a clay pot, slightly caramelized, perfectly cooked with spicey sauce, and the (tender to die for) beef fried at table in rice wrappers. OMG.)

Squirrel with a hoard of small memories
Ultimate pleasure also at Z’s reading aloud of the Fish chapter of my Sumerian book, how happy it makes me to think of it, how absurd, but who else would share my pleasure at it (maybe Minnie) but, no one else could read it so well aloud with such understanding of the particular enjoyment.

You know particular moments stick with you and you know while they are happening that they will and that you are at a pinnacle of happiness? I have so many moments with Rook that are like that, sometimes very little things like watching the coyote pounce on a mouse at Fermilab from the roadside and feeling wordless about it, or when we watch Moomin and just about die of happiness, or watching him do his tap dance as King Herod in the musical. Anyway it is a little silly to say so on my blog since it is a private and unexplainable moment but that is also how I feel about the Sumerian fish.

Pubs and liminial spaces and the nature of time
Tuesday night (after particularly exhausting work, and then more conference where I paid close attention and became more burned out than i thought possible) we went out with S. again and more of Z’s friends and conspirators. I liked seeing him happy amidst his old friends (and as at the Opent. conference his friends’ pleasure in seeing him Cured As If By Miracle Back From Insanity or Nervous Breakdown or Misery or Whatever) Though I was too exhausted again to really be social and connected I had several drinks and talked with L. and S. a bit, but mostly listened to other people. (And I know that one is not Magically Cured from life, middle age, or particular traumas and does not return to an Old Self (as people kept saying “he’s BACK” which is both true and not) but people have continuity of identity throughout whatever scars they have. It is maybe more, ah, you have connected visibly with that old self we knew and that you were and that we thought you were or wanted you to be — when as we get older (speaking again from my getting to be middle aged with my bitter yet spoiled generation’s astonishment that that can HAPPEN) and watch people we know change beyond recognition, go down paths we never thought possible, cut off and disown or forget their former selves we used to love, or simply die. So I enjoyed their pleasure in the moment but found it a little bit sad and ephemeral. (Is it very American of me to be so earnest and analytical rather than sum things up with a little ironic remark – if so then pretend we are in the pub past closing time in the liminal space of drunkenness where such thoughts are permitted.)

Additional thoughts to my post on Cities, suburbs, middle and old age on the other computer when the battery on the first one ran out

At Z’s dad’s house I noticed his frailty and old age and his air of real philosophical detachment which I have noticed in my own father (who is much younger in mind and body, but perhaps on the same path) and wondered at the life path that would take him to this place when nearby was the little bustle of the Sunday dinner which perhaps he might have come to. And that is clearly not part of the way he lives and I think we’ve all seen men who go that path and yet stay in a family, lurking in workshops or basements while the life of the kitchen and its gossip goes on around them. I wonder at it. I have definitely had my moments of desire (and fulfilment) of that matronly vision of the table of lovely food and everyone gathered round (and will have many more such moments) but there is a strand in me that leans another way (or that sees how I could become very different and yet be happy in it though I would not be happy in it now.) I also see another strand in future ways of living, of public involvement or public works or civic works, service rather than of private cultivation of my own garden.

Back to the moments in the monastic living room of Z.’s dad. I got to see Z. become younger suddenly in an indefinable invisible way. (And it was the house where he grew up, which I didn’t realize till later.) Other than looking at a few photos on the wall there was no reminiscing or dwelling on that aspect of the past. His dad had a million mannerisms I recognized as Z’s or really it is opposite and some of them also in other people though in fledgling form. Also, their hands are the same, so it was odd to see basically Z’s future hands and to imagine him old (while right then seeing him as much younger than he is now because of the indefinable slightly melancholy younger-infusion effect of being around one’s parent.) His dad interacted with us by firing a gentle barrage of diffident questions mostly at Z (a relief that there were not many questions for me!) but I felt a little melancholy myself wondering about the relationship. I thought of the time that we were soldering our LED kits together and both feeling a weird bond and memory of bonding with our dads — as if our dads would be pleased with us and pleased at having transmitted something to us that they had liked (even if they don’t like it or do it now.) Or would be proud of us in a minor quiet way. My own dad seems to have forgotten the pleasures of doing things like that (soldering and little projects) and does not really get it that it was important to me or the scale of that importance in a kid’s life (and the life of the future person – as we age and return to earlier memories; he is probably lost in his own bonding moments with his dad when he was young, over baseball; thus, disconnect as our significant memories that formed us are of different times.)

I thought of a blog entry I read recently from someone in the blogher network of being in the snow with her dad and how grateful that she was that he insisted she wake up and ski with him even though she hated it. It was not about the activity really but about giving her some way to remember him and herself, so that now whenever she skis or goes in the snow or whatever they were doing, she thinks of that time and of him. (He is not dead. But he’s different, and it’s harder for them to be close.) Her post was about her consideration of what she is giving to her children.

I think of both Rook and Zond-7 and what they give to their kids as fathers. They are both so good at it, I suspect light-years better than their own fathers were. I wonder if because my own dad was so nice and so good at it, I like them for some of those same qualities. For myself, I have an ideal of being a parent that I don’t at all live up to and never quite have even at my best moments. I am so sporadic in my abilities to do it at all. I’m not running myself down here – it is true – and not an awful thing – just how it is.

Partly this is because my particular skills – that I thought would be so useful in parenting – are not in my case becasue they are not what Moomin responds to and maybe I have not known how to learn and shift fast enough. Partly I might just suck wih little kids (beyond an ability to entertain and bond with any little kid for about an hour) and will come into my own & into usefulness when he is in middle and high school. But so farmy main strengths or things he will remember fondly might be much like my memories of my grandma Hemulen and the absent-minded way she would put hot dogs into the toaster oven for me and my uncle Redolb with a beautiful absence of fuss and we would run around doign whatever we liked, watching junky tv shows, playing with legos or making elaborate stuffed animal battles without interference.

While I do have a very solid comforting motherly reality-bending home-making ability I also think it is a bit unstable and (especially in the last year with health problems) I have pulled back from it. I like that quality in myself and value it and see how other people like it in me, but it’s like it breaks down daily – this might be part of my own damage or frailty that I don’t have clear grasp of yet – the damage that being in fairly high levels of physical pain has done – and the effect of my own fears.

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A city’s soul and a fat rant

For the next three weeks I’ll be traveling around! London, Brussels, Budapest, then London again. See you at Global Voices / Open Tech ! I’ve packed really well for the trip!

My tiny computer is very cute! I am still setting it up, but now it has functioning wireless and ubuntu on it! I described the process of installing eeebuntu on it!

Here’s a very lovely blog I came across thanks to paraleipsis, beautiful & inspiring & clean & messy all at once, really a poet of vignettes & cities:

http://rocalberto.blogspot.com/

One of the things i like about this city ( and of course i didnt like everything, you can see in many ways how spoiled many americans are) is that being direct is a quality, its just an arrow that goes directly to your heart, somethimes you say ouch!! now THATS a quality, If you are like that you skip many many problems on the way. They have created the city of either you are strong, direct and fast or you are dead, and self consciusness is high .

I liked the photos and thoughts on all those rusting things, and also when he goes to be a fireman for one week in a fireman class and thinks, Fuck Art, this is much better.

Every once in a while I come across a stranger’s blog and fall in love a little bit. Today I’m in also in love with Joy Nash and her Fat Rant #3:

I have a big juicy blog crush on justmylife and her dilemmas over her mom in law and swimming in the pool, and how her husband comes home from driving his concrete mixing truck and falls asleep in the recliner, and her potty mouthed bitching which I totally identify with and do all the time about every detail of my life complete with detail and overanalysis. There is something about the totally honest way she writes about the complexity of her extended family and daily life that I really admire. I think she is the secret-blog-friend I would most enjoy hanging out with in real life of all the hundreds of blogs I have seen in the last two months in my new job! She makes me miss Texas a bit… though I don’t know where she is…

Today in Actual Real non-blog life I dropped Moomin off with my friend SuperT (You remember her from WoolfCamp?) and her son Hamster; I worked like a dog; I then had a nice gossipy lunch with Sarah and then we had a supposedly 1 hour meeting which was so productive we just kept going for several more hours. We do work well together! And she is a fantastic project manager! We were on the same wavelength or something and just cut through all sorts of confusions, design issues, usability, and all that stuff.

Then I drove back hauling ass through massive traffic to pick up Moomin and I got to hang out a little bit with SuperT! I gave her a cd with mashups and I showed her how to make music playlists in iTunes and how to organize bookmark toolbar in Safari! A little computer help is a birthday present too! We sat and sweated and talked about our lives! I miss hanging out with her.

And of course I am still completely fascinated by the Obama with roses and unicorns. I would totally get this airbrushed on my truck if I still had a truck. Hello! He’s ejaculating roses! He has sparkles! What is he holding in his hand, I can’t tell?

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Comic Book Whore & Lemon Pie

Ooooo just now a little snippet of my life driving down Highway 280 on a Friday morning having worked a couple hours and blasting the Comic Book Whore album with interruptions for wild eyed talk about worky things and the nature of inspiration and organization and the details of a digital rights thing and and its history, and ideas off that, and how to make a sort of story out of breaking news, more phone calls, then the music up again. Then an hour of work in the french bakery on Cole, with tasty salad and salmon fritatta & smooth coffee, IM with work and my sister, picking away at tasks coming in over email. Full of unspecific energy.

then driving again with the music blasting! Her/jazz by Huggy Bear, “Boy girl revolutionaries, you LIED TOOOO MEEEEEE!” and back to Comic Book Whore’s lush layered noise. Luv Song, Blank Sugar, fucking brilliant. Be Just Sound too. Well, the whole album. It’s hard to rank the songs! Jensen’s voice is all howly and intimate and angry and tender and sometimes screechy or dreamy… I like the layers of sound & the rhythmic complexity.

Zond-7 fed me bites of lemon meringue pie at the stop lights. I accidentally bit him.

The hot hot sun, lemon pie, melty meringue with the toasted marshmallow sticky-skinned bits on top, dissolving, behind the wheel of an enormous machine, radio blasting!

You can download that album for free thanks to Jane Jensen who made it available for her fans since it’s out of print.

I’m loping around the house very well & appreciating that ability to get things when I want them, pick things up off the floor, and the other day at work, going vertical and a moment of disjunction, as I was tall as a king, seeing the world all differently than in my chair. Moments of going to 1 cane (though still hanging onto people or walls, really) or venturing to the water cooler with no cane at all (unnerving). Then when it hurts – a warning sign to stop? Or to be pushed through?

Now I am on the 3FF tech grotto couch hanging out for the afternoon to work. Oh huzzah for the air conditioning. last night in my house at 10pm the thermostat still said it was 92. I had something like 4 cold showers and wet mopped the floor a few times for the fan to cool the air. The heat destroys me more than the cold does. Cold hurts more. But heat seems to make me go all limp and raggy.

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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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Facials! I don’t mean the dirty kind!

I think I’ve had a facial maybe 1 other time and it was one of those deals where you go “Oh, whatever” and abandon yourself and 60 bucks to the hands of fate. Salons and day spas are such a crapshoot. You know that some strangers are going to touch you for a while and some shit’s going to happen to you – but what? It is very like going to a whorehouse but for middle aged suburban ladies (as I’m sure many of you have noticed.)

So what happened to me in this huge fancy (yet cheap) new salon place in downtown Deadwood was that two women removed my socks and shoes and put me into a giant vibrating chair (see?) that also did percussion and kneading. They soaked my feet and hands. I thought the hand soaking bowls were nifty because they put smooth glass pebbles in them so your fingers don’t get bored. There was painting, and dabbing, and massaging with about 6 different kinds of scrubby stuff and lotions. They did all the dabbing and pincering of cuticles and filing early on. They pointed at the autoclaving disinfecting thing to reassure me about how modern they are & that flesh eating bacteria will not rot my fingers off my bones because of their cuticular invasions. There was hot stone massage. I noted they took the hot stones out of a crockpot. The hot stones might have been the best part, but I also liked the HOT LOTION. Dang! Then, a rather elaborate french manicure which is pale pink or clear nails with white tips. I don’t know how long thatall took. A long time.

I find that perhaps because language is a barrier, but perhaps also cultural difference of some kind, the Nail Salon ladies are alert to the slightest twitch and they overinterpret a bit. So, if you fidget, or scratch your nose, they assume no matter WHAT you say that you don’t like what they were doing and they should switch. Alas. An exaggeration of the Curse of the Just Right, where someone is massaging you, and you say “OMG, just right, don’t stop, keep doing exactly that” and they can’t HELP doing it different. Also true for sex. You might have noticed this in your own life.

For the facial part I was led back into the bowels of the building where there were candles and more mysterious Stations for things to Happen and then into a small room with more candles and all sorts of big dentists’ office looking machines. I was given a white cotton muumuu for purposes of neck and shoulder massage which made me feel nearly certain this would not be like my FIRST time I braved the “facial”. When THAT happened oh, it was awful. If you look at my skin, which I recommend you don’t, you will see I am acne-ridden, greasy, and dry-skinned all once. There are blackheads and whiteheads and sort of looming way underneath lurking incipient zits that cannot be stopped but are lined up on a zit conveyer belt waiting for their turn. So in the historic facial of days of yore, some lady whose language I did not speak *squeezed my zits* and sort of eviscerated them with a tiny post-hole digger. It was wildly painful. Afterwards my face was all raw. So anyway, THIS time was awesome. The dental machine turned out to be a high tech Vaporizer which gently puffed warm, perfect steamy air onto my face. A hot towel was wrapped around my head and then infinite strange hot faceclothings and more dabbing and scrubbing and face massage happened. IN between every stage I got hot towelled again. I lost count. First there was coarse grained scrubbing and then a towel. Then fine grained scrubbiness. Towel. Lotiony stuff. Towel. Tingly stuff. A sort of Mask thing which dried as I fell half asleep deliciously to some horrible new age flute music and a botched rendition on guitars of that one Satie piece that they always play in arty movies. Some shoulder and neck rubbing happened while I was lying there on my back with a warm fuzzy blanket over me. There was a point where there was tiny karate-chop percussive massaging all over my face, my sinuses, jaws, much better than you’d think.

So that was pretty awesome. My face does not feel or appear magically different — the point is more the hour of face massage. I don’t really care about the nail polish either (though it is rather splendid) since I will ruin it by tonight, but the good news on that front is whatever they use for polish does not asphyxiate me or them.

The bad part was they were flipping out the whole time about my crippledness (which they didn’t the first time I went there! dammit!) and just could not grasp that I could walk okay. Like, I walked in. With my backpack and crutches. And they saw me walk a little without the crutches. But, they would grab onto my arms while I was walking, or try to lift me up sort of from a chair — unbelieveable — and I had to explain 5 times that no one had dropped me off, Yes I could drive, no I did not have a special car for handicapped people — Yes I could work the pedals — no, no one was coming to get me — this from people who were looking at my feet and watching them move for an hour and a half and I repeat, who saw me walk in and walk around their salon. (My guess is that much like it was in China, Vietnam must not quite be there with popular awareness of ideas of independent living, despite some evidence to the contrary. I dealt with this as if quaaludes were my compass and anchor with a mild half-smile and eventually all the questions stopped as I dozed and sank into the awesome vibrating throne chair and let myself be buffed and squashed and oiled like a motherfucking empress of rome.

Rook drove to M4rin to pick up his mum from her spirituality Retreat & thence to the Assploratorium. They are on their way back. My plan is to feed them soup and hope to god my mom in law goes to bed early after her exhausting day. Armed with my 3 hours of hand, face, and foot massage and new age music I have another plan, which is, ANY time she brings up any crappy health thing or says anything that pisses me off I will Change the subject and ask her what her plan is for when she begins to lose mobility in her 4 story house that has stairs to get in the door, and also what she will do when she can’t drive safely any more, and what her blood pressure is, and I will also regale her with stories about my mom’s parents in their assisted living with expensive round the clock aides. That ought to fix her wagon. If that fails then I will remember some errands and leave for an hour or so.

I have worked on poety translator things, submitted 2 batches of poems to places, cooked, done laundry, on top of all that!

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Earth Day festival


useful ramp into deep gravel
Originally uploaded by Liz.

The festival was just perfect in the ways that Deadwood town festivals always are – small, well organized, lovely, full of children, with music & food & crafts & art displays & oozing with good intentions & civic pride, sponsored by C4rgill and such companies with mild creepiness. (Their “we lurve nature” brochures remind me of the PR spinmater in “The Fountain at the Center of the World”.)

A band called the Banana Slugs played funk, rock, zydeco, catchy tunes with funny lyrics about the Bay and marine life. You have not lived till you have eaten some PTA chick’s homemade turkey sandwich in your new pink tshirt that has a whale wrestling a giant squid, while the crowd around you roars the refrain “Estuary! Salty and fresh” and small children shake their butts on the lawn. Then everyone lined up to go in canoes, and pet some sharks and eels, and sieve mud to find the tiny worms and shells, and there was a slide show somehow connected to Al Gore’s global warming thing which I did not see the slide show but apparently there was stuff about melting glaciers.

My heart sank when we drove into the blocked-off parking lot next to the cluster of low buildings. For the parking lot was gravel and all around the buildings was gravel. There were some concrete paths half buried in gravel and some wooden walkways. But, I was in for hours of trying to move around. I had not called to check about access. Still, I’m glad I went and didn’t miss it.

I had some moments that were nice where I was like “yay family having fun” but, I could not get to most of the places where Rook and Moomin were, at the times they were there, because of access and crowds (for example there was no way i was going to get to pet a shark with all those people shoving me… bags in the face…people leaning on my chair… I ran over a lot of toes in that aquarium building and then just went to its sidelines in complete disgust) And, so I had a lot of those “parked” moments where you get to sort of watch other people having a nice time and you experience a sort of disabled-person compersion as you enjoy their enjoyment (which is halfway just parental enjoyment of kids doing their thing). I had a nice moment when I wheeled up onto the pier and managed it competently and wheelied over the rough patches and the wind wuthered through my hair and jacket. (Estuary! Salty and fresh!) I felt very alone-in-a-crowd.

Three separate people were especially offensive. I guess I have not been going out to unfamilar places/crowds that often, because it felt like it’s been a while. One woman blessed my heart. Another one said kindly that she “just wanted me to know that she thought I was very brave”. A totally scary tanning-booth possibly-drunk lady with her grown up son with her (looking like he was gonna die of embarrassment) caught my arm as I wheeled past and said “You know, it’s good that you come out. You’re making SUCH A DIFFERENCE” and something else I have mercifully forgotten, but it was so dripping with grossness that I sat there and stared at her with my mouth open and had no witty retort.

A lady tried to push me at one point and I could see her recognition that things were rough for me though she could not figure out why, so I went back after a while and asked the volunteers if someone might sweep the concrete walks free of gravel. That helped. And I went over the giant pit of gravel in the photo here (so tantalizingly leading to a ramp) a few times (in fact, too many times) popping wheelies with every step (step??) so that my front wheels would not sink down.

The bathroom was far, far across a sort of narrow corridor of gravel and logs and there was just no way. If I had brought both my crutches and not just one, maybe.

The nicest bit, besides Moomin petting a shark, was that we ran into my ex girlfriend Nada and her partner & their two kids! It was so, so, good to see Nada and I clutched onto her and felt like crying somehow as I had been feeling very alone in the crowd split off from everyone. Then, it turns out, I had completely forgotten that Nada’s partner is a neurologist at Staffnord, a resident. I mean I knew she was something medical but have not seen her for a long time… since maybe Hurricane Katrina or so… as she was always working so I only really hung out with Nada. Well, she pretty much started banging my kneecaps right there and drool was coming out of her as she looked me up and down like she was a dog and I was a giant hunk of meat and said things like “Goddamn it I’ll do your lumbar puncture myself, it’s easy as pie.” “Uhhh can I have a valium for that, because, terror and pain.” She said the Movement D1sorders clinic had just or was just hiring a ton of awesome people and was all overhauled and I should send her all my documents and history and MRIs and junk. As she asked me questions and I tried to explain the whole crappy story it was a bit intense for me. I admitted, I ahve been avoiding going back to my neuromancer because I feel like he fucked up and misdiagnosed me, though it happens to everyone really – but mostly I dont’ want to go because I just couldn’t cope, emotionally, with more doctoring and tests and running around. Besides, I am getting better or at least not worse. I also confessed (at her questions) that indeed lumbar punctures have been mentioned more than once and when they do I have just not gone back because I am scared of it. She talked of the plexus and de- and re-myelination. And that, in some ways, it is not going to matter what the diagnosis is as long as it is not an immediatly terrifying one like a tumor or ALS which it isn’t, and the real thing to pay attention to is, what feels better, and if I am doing better slowly, then, I am doing things right. (That is how I also feel, and I think it is true.) I felt very guilty over not going to phys therapy regularly or swimming. (So much like trying to explain to the dentist why you don’t floss enough, but worse.) At one point I was really overcome with her kindness and almost cried, but I caught it. “I’ve tried to manage things as best I can, and mostly do, but, it’s hard to manage it right, when you’re in it.” It was kind of her to say she understood.

I made everyone leave because of my exhaustion and having to pee. My legs were so stiff, I think from the effort of the wheelies, low back hurting a lot. I wish I could sleep, or cry and be comforted, or both. I guess I need to go back to the doctor and then go to Staffnord and start all this mess up again.

Rook fell asleep immediately when we returned. I read E. Nesbit and lay in bed doing slow leg-therapy things. We have a role playing game in half an hour, can i pull myself together to sit up and be social?

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