Posts Tagged ‘pain’

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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Get me off this ice floe!

The rain and cold are kicking my ass. Likely I am a bit physically weak from not doing much while I was sick. At least I can breathe really really well. (Yay steroids) But damn, I’m really worn down by pain, the last few days.

I can walk but it’s slow and creaky. This morning I woke up aching so hard. I moved around in all directions in bed, progressed to PT exercises, then got up and forced myself to walk around and pick things up off the floor. Unstiffening is good. Oh, for last week when the sun was out and I was full of strange vigor and I felt like being alive.

Distraction is the most helpful thing & also it passes the time so I can endure this grinding annoyance until I can legitimately be unconscious again. In short – I am cranky.

Before I got up and while doing slow leg lifts and stretches I read “Ice Drift”, a very dull book about two Inuit boys adrift on an ice floe. It’s hard to convey how dull it was for something that should be good. Plodding! Untrustworthy-feeling! Stilted As-You-Know-Bob dialogue on every single page! And pointlessness. It was like two pieces of cardboard, spouting bits of children’s encyclopedia entries to each other!

The afterword was the best bit, where the author explains that the real story that inspired him was the story of some of the crew of the ship Polaris in 1871, 19 people including 2 Inuit men 2 Inuit women, and 5 of their children, stranded on an ice floe for six months. The author read the manuscripts from the Captain and two crew members. “In the end, rather than attempt to boil down the mass of information about Tyson’s ordeal — the many characters, the murder of the Polaris master, the near mutiny, the shameful treatment of the Inuit — I decided to write a novel about two young boys who were forced to go on a similar journey.” A novel in which white people show up in their ship only to nicely give the boys a ride home and cheer for them.

There is also a bit from 3rd person omniscient focused on the kids’ mom who bravely sets out against her husband’s wishes, risking death and divorce to rescue them, but is warned by two big burly men to turn back, and then turns back. That’s after she and her husband go out to find them the first time and turn back after 1 day when they realize they were too stupid to bring any food with them. Why was that scene even necessary!

Why not write the story of the Polaris in all its complexity, from the point of view of one of the kids? I just re-read Treasure Island and was impressed with its moral complexity… and thought of how I loved it when I was little. The book I read this morning had none — zero, zilch, nada.

Also, I couldn’t get past the younger boy being named “Sulu”. Elementary school kids might not have this problem but for me it was a hurdle!

IN the book instead of being people who kill, kidnap you, and take you to be exhibited in museums, as well as setting off on polar expeditions that are complete clusterfucks because they all have their heads up their asses; instead of that, the white people on the ships are competent and benevolent – everything they do benefits the Inuit. Even the wrecked ship the Reliance is dismantled and its wood used by the Inuit to make their only “real village” of Nunatak with “even a proud community hall building, courtesy of the Reliance wood” as opposed to what they were before which was a “collection of temporary makeshift huts and iglu“. With this totally non subtle subtext like, “even the accidental garbage left over from our total failures helped immeasurably to civilize the childlike natives.”

It is a good book for this blog, American Indians in Children’s Literature, to take apart. I’m going to write to Debbie Reese and suggest it.

The best account of the actual ice floe journey that I could find:
http://www.oldnewspublishing.com/story1.htm

Doesn’t it sound like everyone on the Polaris was going mad from slow arsenic poisoning? and the Captain just got the most lethal dose?

Here’s some details about the Inuit who were on the ice floe. Unlike the Inuit in the “Ice Drift” book, these people were well acquainted with white folks. Hell, they had met Queen Victoria.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tookoolito
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebierbing
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Hendrik – innnnnnteresting, Hans Hendrik wrote a book: “Memoirs of Hans Hendrik, the Arctic traveller, serving under Kane, Hayes, Hall and Nares, 1853–1876, by himself ”

Well, that’s how I spent my morning, obsessing over the ways that this type of “historical” fiction actually erases history in a way that is stupid, dull, inaccurate, simplistic, and racist, all in the guise of educating young people.

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Pins and needles in my head, too

I can do anything. That’s why I try to do everything, no matter what. Pushing myself physically backfired this last week. When I got home from my trip I didn’t try to walk around the house – I came out of the taxi and just wheeled myself into bed with a side order of Vicodin because my leg wasn’t working and the pain was nasty. All week I struggled trying to keep out of the chair. I did it, by cutting and cutting things I wanted to do, errands to run, stuff to do around the house, going-out-at-night plans. Order stuff off the net, rather than go to a store. Then on Friday ended up walking 2 blocks down Haight street (allowing myself 1 of the 3 errands I had meant to do) and was stuck. I didn’t feel like I could make it back to my car. I sat in the shoe place and felt extremely upset at the situation, at my body, and with myself for having poor judgment.

I am back in the place I was some months ago of doing something brief like laundry or getting myself food, then lying down to rest for a good while before attempting anything else. I have to scale back and be careful.

So, I can’t sit up and walk around and be active right now for a whole day. Yesterday and today I was super conservative, and I’m still getting worse. I’m not stressed, or upset, other than my basic fear of what is happening and my frustration at being in pain. The constant pins and needles in my legs, feet, and hands is maddening and my right leg’s pain and collapsing hit me worse today. My calf – the horrible nerve going down the outside! I sat on the floor this evening for a second to open my sewing box, and went OMG what was I thinking… I’m fucked.. that was the worst idea ever. But I was able to do it last week!!!! Over the course of the day I lost the ability to bend over and pick stuff up off the floor. When I whimpered with pain by accident while trying to get up from a chair that was the last straw, I said to hell with it and brought the wheelchair in the house again.

Suddenly the geography of my house is different. I need help keeping all the floors clear.

I don’t know or care if “It” is a mechanical/orthopedic issue which I aggravated by too much activity and sitting up 12 hours in a row and the long plane rides, or if it’s MS or what the fuck ever aggravated by too much activity and stress and no rest. Whatever it is, it’s flaring up big time.

Everything non essential will be put off.

Since I am now making dr. appointments again I will take time off to do that instead of just doing it and making the work up at night. That is part of my regime of less stress and more rest.

I wish to god i had some prednisone right now – I would take it in a flash. I know it’s bad shit but I would get it for a week for bronchitis or sinuses and then would end up feeling fan-fucking-tastic top of the world healthy and able for the next 3 months.

My plan is good – I just need to stick to it – I had such nice plans to go to the beach or the science museum with Moomin this weekend – and I scrapped them completely knowing it would be insane when I can barely contemplate going out to buy cat litter.

Nice things today – Moomin getting completely better after a sudden morning of barfing – helping Moomin with his homework – having pictures drawn for me – lying in bed reading umpteen Antonia Forest “Trennels” books since they’re very comforting and complicated (Oh the perfidy of Lois Sanger! She’s worse, and better drawn, than Widmerpool, don’t you think? ) and making spiders out of black yarn (body and legs), red glitter paint (eyes), and safety pins (to attach them on things). Rook’s LOTR alternate history game and finding dwarven words for it – Colin Powell’s declaration of support for Obama, which was lovely – Shaving Zond-7′s head – and having bits read to me last night out of the history book about Santa Anna’s leg and its burial – and how it was dug up and burned (which I am not seeing anywhere on the net – instead a lot about its burial with full military honors, and how his prosthetic leg, captured & stolen, is still in a museum in Illinois).

That’s where I’m at – I don’t need a lot of sympathy, it’s only been 20 years or so this has been happening – just want to talk about it, complain a little, figure out what I’m going to do about it, and declare it, hoping other people will hold me to my resolutions of intelligent behavior.

I’m sorry I fucked up. It’s hard to know where the line is. Sometimes I don’t do anything wrong, and things still go wrong and I end up getting worse. This time I feel like it is kind of my fault. Fingers crossed a few days or a week of resting and I’ll rocket right back up onto my feet.

I think the social worker’s call came at a time when I really am ready to hear it and am panicking anyway so willing to jump back into the Wheel of Diagnosis.

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Fancy dress for narcissists

I had very specific feelings about this dress, and remember them well. I liked the color and the fact that it was fancy. I didn’t like that the waist was babyish, or the way the lace scratched, or how the elastic on the sleeves pinched to make a line around my arm. I thought the black bow was elegant, like Mr. Peabody‘s bow tie. Of course, who wouldn’t admire Mr. Peabody and want to be just like him?

me probably about 4

In my mind, when I wore this dress, I was professorly.

You’re laughing! I can hear you!

They thought I was a cute little girl in a frilly dress. When really I was Dr. Badgerabeth; kindly, bossy, superpowered, able to pull any book I wanted out of a secret pocket; a little vague; quick to invent, prone to giving history lessons.

I knew and deeply resented the contrast of reality vs. my imagined self, and would not have told anyone my Mr. Peabody feelings for the world.

Is it insane, or the sign of extreme narcissism, that I can remember all my feelings about this piece of clothing from when I was 4 or 5?

Last weekend at my grandma’s house, I pawed through only a few of her dozens of scrapbooks and photo albums and drawers of letters, and completely enjoyed hearing her stories of the past. On this photo

age 5

she described to me all her feelings about the dress. It was her best one and she loved it. But she had mixed feelings. They had to stand in lines all the time for clothes and food. I got the impression it was a hand-out that was fixed up for her, probably by her own grandma or her older sister (her mom was dead.) “It had a rip in it. RIGHT HERE.” and she pointed. The dress seemed to mean something complicated; I could see its ghost outline. A mixture of pride and desire-to-be and humiliation.

My grandma Hemulen told me when she realized she was an artist. She was 6 years old. Her uncle, a house painter, painted her and her sisters’ room a light spring green. He used something like masking tape or strips of paper to mark off a border around the bottom, and told her she could make a decorative border however she liked. As she described her plan for the border to me, my grandma’s face lit up with excitement and pride. She marked off stripes with the tape, then squares, then painted a checkerboard pattern, with tulips in every other square. I too have memories like this, intense strange memories of feeling very driven, and holding on hard to those memories all my life. It was strange to see the similarities in our strong memories and our documentary approach to life. The photos, the scrapbook articles, and for me the blog entries, aren’t so much proof of anything as they are keys, keys to all the doors of the past, of desire and identity I didn’t want to lose, and in part a desire to have the keys to other people, to the locked doors inside their heads, like those little eggs with peepholes and dioramas in them, but with infinite room or a maze that leads to through-the-looking-glass . . .

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Geek out at BlogHer Boston and DC

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

erin feeling the computer love


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

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

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

  • Then there are the parties!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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    Here is a picture of me, right this minute

    take a photo right now meme

    I was thinking today of this time when a friend of mine said at a poetry reading, a big group one that I’d been going to for at least a couple of years, “I’m so grateful your husband lets you come out to these things” and I nearly keeled over from shock and laughter. Seriously I started laughing my ass off. “Let me”? Now that is something I have never in my relationship with Rook felt for a single second controlled either one of us. We don’t “let” each other do stuff. I really think we are just ourselves.

    Somehow this got me thinking of my relationship in college with my old boyfriend Dr. Dick. I dated him from when I was 18 to when I was 20 or so and we lived together for most of that time in a big co-op. I thought how maddening it was that he would never talk about anything. But he would listen to all my crazy ideas and shit. Basically, it was like this blog, all 5 million words of it, but coming out of my mouth every night. But then as things started to go weird, I had less to say. He would go, *long silence*… “What are you thinking.” And I would, basically to avoid saying what I was actually thinking which was OMG FUCK YOU WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE WHY DON’T YOU EVER TALK, I would start babbling distractedly about whatever came into my head. If I said “What are YOU thinking” or more neutrally, “I dunno what about you?” He would just handwave and turn it back on me. Somehow, this combined with a strange life where he knew when I had class, and my work schedule, and my co-op work things, and if I went out the door of our (shared with many people) living room to the outside, he’d always ask me where I had been, which got to feeling like he was suspicious and weird, because I’d go, “Laundry room” and he’d go, “But you were gone an hour” and I’d feel a giant SURGE OF RAGE at having just washed his fucking clothes along with mine, but would tamp it down and go, “Yeah I stopped by the TV room and hung out watching star trek with some people” and he’d go, “Oh? Who?” and I’d then use the Distracting Babble technique to get us out of that kind of conversation. So, this rarely got direct, but you can see it was nasty. Ever been in a relationship like that? If you just pretend it’s not there, you can act freely. Have you ever done that?

    As some of you imaginary long-term readers may recall, the creepy punchline is that all along, Dr. Dick was secretly engaged to this woman who had moved out to Austin with him as his fiancee but agreed to live separately so as not to be distracted from their PhDs. WHO FUCKING KNEW. So he would go off and have sex with her at lunch. And she never, ever, came to his place – how is that? How? At least she was like 1 million times dumber than me… Man! I felt really bad for her too and the nice bit of the story is she went off, married someone else, had 2 kids as fast as possible, and I hope lived happily ever after. Anyway, while she was off in a women’s dorm, I lived with her fiancee (!!!) basically like we were married. The truth all came out in a giant wave of drama when the fiancee approached me at random as her boyfriend’s cute next door neighbor who she propositioned — she thought she was snagging an HBB for her man. It went so, so, wrong.

    In contrast to that tangle of lies and paranoia and silence, and in contrast to the expectations of my poetry-writing friend as to the conditions of interpersonal relationships, in 10 years with Rook I don’t think either one of us has done anything more than say “I’d like to go to Finland” or “I’m in love with this other person too” or “What if I change careers”. The other person has always kind of gone, “Huh.” and then we talk about it. But there is no LETTING… or permission-giving.

    How otherwise could any sane person tolerate life? I’d like to know?

    The other thing that popped into my head tonight was a series of photos one of my friends did. Sabina took a ton of photos of all of us, people she was close to, and said it was for a project. She let us look at all the proofs and pick out the one we liked best of ourselves as a portrait. At the end of the project she showed us sort of an exhibit, and she explained. Every person had 2 photos mounted on the wall. The first was the one that they picked, the way they see themselves or want to be seen. The second was *how she saw them, their essential self or personality*. The whole thing was horrifying. Barb had picked something where she was dressed up, girly, uncomfortable and tight looking. Sabina had picked one of her that was just… the same way I saw Barb… smiling, full of hilarity to the point of painfulness, intense as hell. (But, if you knew her, you would know that she would see only that it made her nose look too big, or something that her friends would never think of.) Paul I think had picked a very Arty looking photo of himself with one of his sculptures looking very Brooding Young Man About Town but Sabina had put next to it one where he was looking right at the camera very sweetly – a person essentially sweet and a little confused…. Oh, the horrid truth! In the photo of me that I’d picked out, I was sitting – maybe on his lap but maybe just next to – with Dr. Dick and all my body language self-effaced and went “I am a couple” and “My attention is all on this man”. I swear to god… I was *simpering*. It was not till I saw the rest of the exhibit, and the two photos together, that I realized: I’d picked it because it looked like what I thought “happy couple” should be and because startlingly Dr. Dick did not look like an alcoholic zombie in that photo (as he usually did) and I wanted a nice picture of us together. In the photo of me that Sabina picked out, I was pensive and a little out of focus, surrounded by books. I think Dr. Dick was very blurry in the background, far away. It contained all her love and pity, I think, for where I was and couldn’t quite be as a person, as a feminist. You’ve had fantastic friends with shitty partners, and wished you could jolt them out of it, but knew you couldn’t and they’d take their own sweet time and you just hope they become *more themselves*? Yeah me too. Yet: I could swear even now that most people thought I was free, was myself, was perhaps remarkably so to the point of being “inspiring”: Sabina saw I wasn’t. I was that person who was not quite being herself; limiting myself and “letting” myself be limited. Staring at Sabina’s portrait of me as her beloved friend, I realized right down to my core that she had taken a photo of Actual Me. It was like a photo of the Me of my journals, a self that didn’t have a public home and that I didn’t know how to live as. Thanks Sabina!

    I thought tonight of the person I was in 1989 who would babble to avoid the questions about where I was and who I talked to and wondered, which bits of that self are still in there? How am I behaving? How am I sort of messed up? I appreciate the ways I have grown bigger – and more free. It feels like I stretched and stretched and kept going and never stopped or was satisfied, always wanting to be new. But I am also still that person from 1989 – and also the 16 year old girl cowering on the kitchen floor screaming about Constitutional Rights and free love as her dad spit in her face. And who will I be 10 years from now? How do we contain all these selves? I feel like a whole person, a free person. What is the lesson of Sabina’s photographs, besides that you are not entirely who you think you are?

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    Hello from the surface of the motherfucking sun

    It’s ONE MILLION DEGREES in my house. I have iced my head and watered the pavement. Can’t think, can’t move! Ill-feeling and cranky! I need an IV and a salt lick. No, fuck it, it’s brain in the jar time. *Schloop* (removes brain from skull & places into nice cold jar with internet connection)

    We went out for pizza – Moomin says he is good at pinball – I agree as he kept scoring 5 million more points than I was able to – he’s fast on the flippers. I get all James Dean reckless and end up tilting.

    Long good day working, helped out Squid a bit in the corners, could not muster up the energy to do more tonight.

    It has been weird to have Rook act the stay at home and to come across him earnestly filling out forms, doing all the paperwork, magic food appearing in house and suddenly all cooked and stuff, the bags of things to take to donation were whisked away, it is eerie, pleasant, and guilt-inducing all at once, along with a very unworthy feeling of NOW YOU TRY IT THEN, HA, which I wish I didn’t feel. Actually my gratitude at not having to fill out those school forms knows no bounds. Just not having to *track* everything… Is it really okay? I find that I really, really, really love it when people make me food. Who doesn’t love it? But, especially now. It makes me want to cry. It always seemed to make sense for me to be doing all the form filling out and insurance-company-calling and crap, but I can’t remember why, even when we both worked, and both had the same commute. Maybe I need to let go of that for a bit. And putter in the garden a little, and focus my house-labor efforts on getting rid of books and things.

    I suggested going to the beach tomorrow but that is kind of a dumb plan as I am not prepared at all – there is no beach food – I have no gas – I am physically in bad shape – The thought of wheeling myself down the long path fills me with horror and pre-exhaustion – But I felt bad that I have not done anything special with Moomin and it seemed like a good idea to get us all out of the house. Really, I would like to stay in bed until it is too hot to bear, and then maybe just go to the library. Can I change the plan? I already invited his friend to come… maybe just a regular play date instead and i could sit and play a good long board game with them, and have ice cream. Then fall back into bed. Much more my speed. I meant to do a board game thing tonight, but instead, pizza, books, and pinball. Then I collapsed into bed & computer.

    Sunday will be swimming at Squid’s house. Ordinarily Zond-7 would come down for a bit but this week we can’t. I will miss him at the pool party. must – remember – not to drink too many lemon drops – at Squid’s house -

    Cats – get off me – you’re sweaty, enormous, hairy animals – it is too hot to cuddle – Why do I not have several box fans in this house, and a minion to gently sponge me with ice water or lemon-flavored vodka –

    Read more of the Crypto book, got to the bit about Clinton & Gore, their wonkiness, and the Clipper. WTF! And read a bit of Flora Tristan, and the first Narnia book (which Moomin is about to read) to imagine what Moomin will think of it.

    Getting that crazy late-night feeling. Rook is snoring and peaceful. Cats as i mentioned are all over me. I want to cry for no reason and read snippets out of books and jump around and write crazyass poetry and drink some tequila and type till I pass out into this blog, quotes from the most beautiful books, complaints & celebrations, melancholy & nostalgia for bloggings-past. I’d like for the oddest & most rare & true things to come out of my fingers and come to you, in some sort of moment of little bits of paper flying around like the illustration of salome with birds in the comic book version of Wilde’s play. I’d like to do FABULOUS THINGS and just pretend to act like they are usual. I’d like to throw things up in the air and have them, with no explanation, NEVER COME DOWN, and for no one to act surprised by this. Long streaks of rainbow paint coming out from the heels of my converse as I skate around over the pavement, painting out comet-tail footsteps that melt & dissolve into the cement. It’s just what she does, that badgerbag chick over there. *shrug* If even that much notice.

    And so to bed.

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    Betchfest! Assertagirl’s guest post

    Here’s a guest post from Amy at Assertagirl for a blog event, the Bitchfest!. Catherine from Her Bad Mother asked recently for hosts for random “bitch & get it off your chest” posts, and I offered to be a blog host. Here you go! It’s not mean, nasty, or full of swears. It’s more of a “dissatisfaction” bitch.

    On Saturday morning while my husband and I were sipping our coffee, he turned to me and said, “I thought maybe we could go and look at some new model houses today.”

    I blinked.

    “Really? How come?”

    We definitely can’t afford a new house, and as far as I knew, he planned for us to live here in our current home for years and years to come.

    “I just thought it might be fun,” was his answer.

    So Saturday afternoon we spent walking through model homes in the city where we live. This is a practice I try to avoid, because even though I know in my mind, as we tour these new homes, that buying one just isn’t in the cards for us right now, in my heart I get very excited about them and really, really, really, really just want to buy one and move in NOW. Let’s close this deal!

    Sunday we went to the city nearby to look at some more model homes. We pored over floor plans, and began to flippantly throw around terms like “open concept”, “bungaloft” and “master suite.” A goddamn MASTER SUITE, people! Some of them had two closets. I swear the walk-in closet in one of those houses was the size of my current home office.

    I’m ashamed at how much I’m coveting a new house after this weekend. It would be so wonderful to have a bigger, brand new home that nobody had ever lived in, so spacious and bright and clean… I’m ashamed because I know we’re fortunate to have a home at all. Lots of people rent single rooms, or live in shelters or don’t have homes at all. I get that.

    And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the house we have now. Well, there’s nothing wrong with it that can’t be fixed up, anyway. Sure, we have dirty old carpeting but that can be cleaned or replaced. Sure, our front hallway is sort of dingy but it can be painted. Sure, our bathroom shower tile grout won’t ever seem to come clean, no matter how many times I clean it with bleach, but that can all be ripped out and replaced.

    The thing is, I just get so impatient, I already feel defeated before any of these projects gets under way. Sometimes it feels as though all we’ve been doing since we moved in together is fixing up this house. It would be such a relief to move into a new house and just…live there. There would be no “Home Renovation Wish List” posted our refrigerator door. What a novel concept.

    =====

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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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