Posts Tagged ‘surfing’

Thoughts on the geography & economics of cyberspace from the Brussels airport

I noted the shapes of houses as soon as we crossed from France to Belgium. Houses even built alone in the middle of a field go straight up in a narrow box shape, like a brick stood on end, and a pointy roof, as if built into an invisible row of narrow box townhouses crammed together. I wondered if they had been in a row over the years and fire, age, or war destroyed the others? Or is it the function of laws and the accepted size of a single plot of land and house footprint? Or style detached now from any of those things so that if you built a house in the middle of a field, it would be that obelisk shape like a slice of cake standing alone?

I noted in my 4am haze on the way to the airport that there were not many billboards. Our notions of wasted space, bare space, unused, *needing* colonization and exploitation. Once you start painting “Chew Mailpouch” on the side of barns and slotting tiny ads into parking meters, every informationless space is an opportunity. Our rush to ad-driven web is such a colonization. We don’t put ads in the margins of books – but we do in magazines, which are replacing the book. Cyberspace was thought of by Gibson & Sterling early on as a sort of cave that paralleled our reality but underneath it or outside of it, using stuff it internally knew to build models of corporations, people, geographies, wealth and power. Relationships were not modelled that I can think of, other than as the flow of money – or were they modelled as information flow as well? But when I look at the world I am seeing it with *missing information*, missing overlays as in Spook Country or Stross’s Halting State, with not just facts and advertisements but game systems and fiction, enhancements to objects and thus to geography. Already I notice that my own geography differs from other people in that (as Zond-7 and I just did) I head for a power outlet or a wifi hot spot, rather than a chair and a window. We compete with other little technocratic foraminifera for the most mineral-rich spot in our ocean, detecting currents invisible or unimportant to our fellow travellers.

As I consider information-rich areas as somehow attractive or nutritious I think of windows again, or televisions, or paintings and art.

The “wasteland” idea I was talking about in my last post: we invent the idea of wasteland or uncolonized space, as with Patagonia or Antarctica or “The West” or Mars, areas that are occupied in one way or another but that by circumscription of language can be made empty. I was thinking of this as I looked at the cultivated fields next to the strips of land (waste land) alongside the railway (and that exists also along highways) and wondered that it is not under cultivation. That ecological niche costs too much to exploit, it has a particular transaction cost and the economy is such that it is not “worth it” to produce goods from the strips of land. Then i thought of the fire prevention goats in my county, a flock of goats which is herded from area to area to eat the underbrush in dry weather, entire fields of thorns, weeds, tall bristly grasses. In an area where people keep goats in order to survive, the roadside and “vacant” area weeds would be a hot commodity. In ours, the county actually pays someone to feed their goats. The roadside could grow hay mowed and sold, or it could be mowed and composted (which perhaps it already is). The amount of things that it is less expensive to *throw away* than to use boggles my mind and seems inherently wrong. So I looked at the side of the road and thought “why isn’t it being used?” and then realized that no — the weeds provide seeds to birds, habitat for insects, unpaved surface for rain to return filtered to groundwater reserves, and other benefits I can’t think or or see and which in fact drive me crazy when I see pointlessly concreted-over areas next to streams, where there could be useful weeds. When I was 17 or 18 I used to glue or wheat-paste little posters with poetry and stories on them onto parking meters, bus stops, bathroom stalls, or any places where people seemed to be waiting or liminal or stuck, as “OccuPations of Uninhabited Space” , OPUS for short, named after Takver’s mobiles in The Left Hand of Darkness, as an attempt to counteract the information colonization by advertisements with a different kind of information — the encrypted information, the steganography of fiction and poetry. My colonizations were invasive, were graffiti, were wrong, in a way that paid advertisements were not. Easy construction of web pages have made more space, more territory, for all of our information-emitting habits, our billboards to the future, our overlay of stories. I knew the instant I saw Mosaic for the first time that there would be enormous attention grabbing flashing colored advertisements not just colonizing the screen space of our machines but the internal landscape of our attention. A certain kind of space would be created in us that was not there before, for the organization and absorption of information.

Thus, the way it is “wrong” or colonialist/imperialist to look at the Patagonian landscape or a small town by quiet river and seeing it as empty and unused, full of potential, or misused, unfertilized (coded female and in need of impregnation) because not full of industry, mills, factories, garbage dumps, bustling workers and trains and tourists — in that same way I would question our assumption that “the Internet” is an empty space with infinite ecological niches waiting (yearning!) to be discovered and exploited. What we are seeing as “the Internet” while obviously a real thing is also an idea and a geography. I thought of the roadside weeds, the in-theory-valuable growing power or living-space of the land by the train tracks, and the way that pay-for-recycling created paying work for people collecting cans and bottles from trash, and speculated that “there should be” a movement to find and expose and create infrastructures for people to step in and use tech tools to create entire economic niches. A way to use web tools to lower the transaction costs, for those flocks of goats or the opportunity to publish books on the seat backs of buses. I thought of couchsurfing.com, and the site that lets people register the fruit trees in their suburban yards, to get rid of a surplus of plums, lemons, apricots. There *are* many such niches. But is this approach doing harm in some way? We might say of course not as “the Internet” does not have previous inhabitants to be damaged or ecosystems destroyed but it is the potential I wonder about and what avenues become narrowed as we barrel down these particular highways. For example, everyone wants to publish a book. They have photocopiers, they have paper and pens, why don’t they publish it in the sense of making it public by pasting it up on the wall somewhere public? It is not just the ambition of making it big and “publishing” 50,000 copies of that book because of the ways poets jockey and shark for their little 200-run letterpress hoo-ha dumpster-fillers or space-taker-uppers unread on their friends’ shelves. It is also because of property rights; it would be illegal for me to paste up my novel’s pages on the wall of the train station, even though it wouldn’t be particularly offensive, it might entertain people waiting in line, it might be aesthetically just as pleasing or unpleasing as the bare wall. As we colonize our vacant planet of Internet we have to watch out for the pressures that then make every space owned, even potential space (consider domain names).

Okay. I’m ready for my overlay implants now.

Onward to Budapest!

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Invertebrate rescue and the Rights of Women

Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to meeeeee! Eeeeeeeeeeeepc!!!!

I got a tiny cute little computer for my birthday!

And pancakes and colorful drawings, and everyone being together, and the beach, and seeing the Kung Fu Panda movie (which I wrote up briefly this morning for Body Impolitic), and some fabulous zines, and Flora Tristan‘s The Workers’ Union. (DROOOOOL, I love Flora Tristan so much! I’ve read her Peregrinations of a Pariah and her London travel journal and some of her political writing! But not this, ever. It’s amazing.)

Rook made the pancakes and had also made cookies the night before. After the movie last night we all ran around Yerba Buena Park, went to the MLK waterfall, and it was super nice (but tiring). He and Moomin were doing fake kung fu and then I think for the rest of the evening and the next day they were playing they were superpowered kung fu animals. Rook and Zond-7 and I watched the two newest Doctor Who episodes and they were JUST GREAT and very disturbing.

Today! I almost wimped out on an Expedition. Went anyway.

Went to the beach! Everything on the drive down rt. 1 stunningly beautiful. My favorite tiny beach inside the breakwater! Kids rocketing around! They built a sand castle with me & ran around like wild things. Lucked out no traffic no fog, only a bit windy! Saw many moon jellies, harbor seals sticking up their heads from the water, grebes pelicans cormorants and terns. Rolled & walked rather a long way. (I am exhausted but aside from the pain in my leg am okay, it’s more like regular exercise exhaustion, but I don’t know how much I can do tomorrow physically).

Then when we walked to the point to sit on the wall, we saw a guy surf fishing. He pulled something out of the water with a gaff, inspected it, and threw it down onto the sand. He was far enough away that it was hard to tell what it was. But… it looked like the shape of a giant gumboot chiton and I saw a flash of orange underneath. I didn’t have my crutches (having gone from the path to the wall on Zond-7′s arm) and there was no way I could get to it. “You could find out…” “I won’t know what it is!” “You could bring it to me!” “WHAT!!! Pick it UP???!!!!” I couldn’t believe it when he really picked it up and started bringing it over. I mean, this is a thing pretty much as big as a human liver and kind of the same texture. Or, like, a liver mixed with a smallish nerf football. OMG I started bouncing around and going “YAYYYYYY!!!” Guess what, it was indeed the most humonguous gumboot chiton I have ever seen. It’s my favorite kind! I saw the magnetite-tipped teeth of its radula! and they were super disgustingly creepily awesome! Anyway this thing had to be a foot long! We held it for a while and then Zond-7 was totally a hero and clambered out onto the rocks with it and dramatically threw it into as deep and rocky a spot as he could manage. I’ve never seen one at this beach and it seemed like a sort of fabulous omen for it to be my birthday and that I got to hold my favorite invertebrate.

The beach has become a mixture of sublime and boring, like that Berlioz opera.

I thought about how intensely my perceptions and experience have changed over the course of my life. When I was a kid, I loved the cold. It felt just cold, but not bad. There was an initial shock, then I welcomed the cold and felt like I was made of knives and wind. I’d breathe in the cold, or open myself up to the 50 degree sea water, and expand like the universe, jumping around, body surfing, rolling in the snow, whizzing down a hill on my flying saucer. My lips would turn blue and I’d shiver uncontrollably, and someone would make me come out of the water or into the house or car. But now, there is no way I can enjoy the cold, or even tolerate it without intense pain. I thought of times when I’ve heard people (talking to me, or others) cajoling, persuading, bullying: “Come on! It’s not so cold! You’ll get used to it!” They could say that to me now, and it wouldn’t be true. Likewise, I thought of all the old people who I grew up around, and their constant horror at how cold I must be, and how impossible it was for them to understand that I was not suffering from cold air or water or snow, to the point of complete disrespect of my reported experience. I thought of how many experiences like this there are. Not just cold or heat, but pain, the tastes of food, emotional suffering, oppression, sanity, *reality*. People change over the course of their lives, and know, or should know, that it is possible to perceive the world and experience very differently and that cold DOES feel good, and that also, cold DOES feel bad and terrible, and there is a giant spectrum of true experience. In other words, I marvel that people don’t respect others’ subjectivity or reported experience. How can they not have learned some measure of empathy, merely from the changes they’ve been through in their own lives and the different people they were and are and will be? I said some of this to Zond-7 who replied that people are alienated from their former selves, their younger selves, and instead construct narratives in which they used to be wrong, and now are right. I felt like I was seeing in greater depth how it is that people lose or never develop a sense of that respect and empathy and how related it is (or can be ) to discontinuity of identity and self hate/disrespect. I realized that “self respect” has to include all your selves across time. Zond-7 went on to talk about the evening person (who stays up too late) dissing the morning person (your future self who you are screwing up by staying up too late) so that the morning person (future you) is really angry at past you from the evening before. (Hmm, I am still thinking about that and myself and my issues with health and driving myself too hard.) We made some remarks on how lovely it would have been in a way to have these thoughts in 1789 or something when we could have written “A Treatise on the Unities and Discontinuities of Human Consciousness and the Rational Social Mind” and been studied like geniuses hundreds of years later but instead it will be like “LiveJournal entry, ho hum, 2 comments”. Hahaha! We didn’t mean it and do believe it is a million million times better to have the net and have everyone saying this sort of thing in casual asides to ferment & propagate like letters but more discoverable.

I give you a quote from Flora Tristan, from the chapter “Why I Mention Women” in The Workers’ Union, 1843, the book where she called for an international social justice movement and union to transcend existing governments:

Workers, in 1791, your fathers proclaimed the immortal declaration of the rights of man, and it is to that solemn declaration that today you owe your being free and equal men before the law. May your fathers be honored for this great work! But, proletarians, there remains for you men of 1843 a no less great work to finish. In your turn, emancipate the last slaves still remaining in French society; proclaim the rights of woman, in the same terms your fathers proclaimed yours.
“We, French proletarians, after fifty-three years of experience, recognize that we are duly enlightened and convinced that the neglect and scorn perpetrated upon the natural rights of women are the only cause of unhappiness in the world, and we have resolved to expose her sacred and inalienable rights in a solemn declaration inscribed in our charter. We wish women to be informed of our declaration, so that they will not let themselves be oppressed and degraded any more by man’s injustice and tyranny, and so that men will respect the freedom and equality they enjoy in their wives and mothers.
1. The goal of society necessarily being the common happiness of men and women, the Workers’ Union guarantees them the enjoyment of their rights as working men and women.
2. Their rights include equal admission to the Workers’ Union palaces, whether they be children, or disabled or elderly.
3. Women being man’s equal, we understand that girls will receive as rational, solid, and extensive (though different) an education in moral and professional matters as the boys.
4. As for the disabled and the elderly, in every way, the treatment will be the same for women as for men.

A footnote by the translator, Beverly Livingston, notes that Tristan had read Mary Wollstonecraft but probably not Olympe de Gouges.

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A trip to the geek mall

Yesterday we got up intending to go to Tiananmen, but it was raining. So we thought we’d go on a geek pilgrimage to what we read was like “Beijing silicon valley” in Haidian district, a ways out of downtown past the 4th ring road. We got in a taxi and pointed to the address, bascially the intersection of Zongguocun and Zonguocun Lu streets. Zond-7 and I liked the feeling of just getting in a cab and trusting to fate and our wits to get us home again.

About 40 minutes and 7 bucks later we were dropped off at an insanely busy corner, at an “Easy Joy” gas station. With a big crowd of people we surged across the street. There was a big plaza with several buildings all covered in ads for computers and techie gadgets, mp3 players, cameras. We followed some loud pop music up to a booth that was so crowded I couldn’t see inside; it was a video game demonstration. A couple of guys tried to herd us into the building. There was a ramp… so… why not? We followed a bunch of people onto an elevator and got off at the 2nd floor which was full of glass cases of tiny shops with computer stuff, mostly mac and ipod and ps2 and wii sort of things. I could get an ipod touch for around $150 (I did not try to bargain, but I didn’t buy it either). Back on the elevator, we got off where everyone else did, at the 6th floor, adn went down a narrow hallway full of grungy small offices. People were eating noodles, talking, sleeping, building computers, unpacking boxes… and at the end of the hall we turned left into a GIANT MALL of only electronics. Booths, stalls, glass cases, everything was piled high. It felt a bit unofficial, like a flea market, and most people were very young. Every booth had a group of people just hanging around and mostly playing video games or surfing the web.

I get a nod of recognition from guys with slightly long hair (popular alternative style is much like Rain’s haircut, alternative but not too outrageous) and from ever so slightly gothy looking chicks. There are some skateboarders who definitely look me over and seem to want to talk (but I am with this big tall guy in a SUIT.)

Here is a little part of Beijing I was looking for, and found, on the 6th floor of this electronics flea market mall behind the winding hallway of grimy offices:

Geek plaza in Beijing

The next building over had a starbucks and a mcdonalds – we didn’t go into that one. Across the street there was an even bigger building with a giant “e” on it. Its first floor sold laptops of every kind, very fancy, with classical music playing way too loud and an oppressive atmosphere like a boutique department store or a car sales lot. We got out of there as fast as possible, to the elevator, and the basement which was labelled “cool comics zone”. Dance Dance Revolution! an arcade! Better music! No one bothering us! an online gaming room! and then another whole building full of mobile phones and gadgets. Clearly if we came back at 9pm this place would be hopping with teenagers. The 5th floor was all a huge food court and I liked it a lot. The booths mostly had raw food which the cooks prepared in front of you. Nothing was in English, but sometimes there were photos of the different dishes. Or, the food was laid out raw on a plate covered with plastic wrap so you could see what it was. We ended up eating in a small Korean restaurant. I had grilled eel bibimbap, which was totally delicious, and the thousand year egg out of Zond-7′s noodle soup. The 4th floor of this mall was also nice, the “DIY” floor with computer parts. I liked the section with clear shells and light-up stuff for modding your desktop computer.

There was a very big plaza or balcony on this floor, where we overlooked the small park and plaza and the Sino Steel building. Below, we realized that getting a taxi would be hard. There were tons of taxis, but they were mostly full.

The plaza was pretty and full of people strolling around or sitting on the benches. We sat to people watch and to decide on which toddlers in fancy outfits and pigtails were the cutest.

I can’t describe this well, but here are my general observations and impressions on the character of the city. I like Beijing, and I feel at home here. It has to do with how people treat each other and their expectation of how they will be treated. People aren’t snotty, but they seem to feel entitled in a way I find familiar, or pleasant, or easy to deal with. Everyone is thinking of themselves, for example in crossing the street or in a line, there is no false deferential politeness. But people aren’t rude about it either, or pushy. I like the loving respect that shows in how people treat their children; in the park and elsewhere there were many times I would see a small child choosing what to do and the parent following along and supporting them, or lifting the child to where she wanted to go, or to see a new thing. So I like the freedom and encouragement that people seem to give their children. Also, in every situation where I have *not* been in a “fancy hotel” environment, people just act like we are all human beings, and no one either acts snotty, or kisses my ass. Zond-7 says it has to do with not acknowledging class differences, or those class differences not meaning that you have to act a certain way. People don’t act blase, or indifferent, or self-important, like they do in New York and San Francisco.

That is my one-day impression! Take it for what it’s worth!

Geek plaza in Beijing

I know that we don’t know how to read people and neighborhoods. And I’m very curious… for example as we drive past a neighborhood I keep wondering “and what stereotype of people live here? What do people say about them?” Like how we talk about “Mission hipsters” or what San Franciscans think of people from Los Angeles, and vice versa. That is the local geography I would really like to know, but it only comes when you’ve lived in a place for real.

I love it that Zond-7 and I were perfectly happy going to a random destination in the suburbs. It is as if someone came to San Francisco and instead of seeing any of the tourist sights, went to Hillsdale Mall and Fry’s.

So, back to our adventure in the park. We watched a roller-blading guy set up small cones and practice a set routine. We smiled at babies. Then we headed to what we thought might be a hotel but which turned out to be a grocery store underground and then a huge huge mall with brand name Western stuff like Izod and Adidas. “Middleclasstastic!” Zond-7 pronounced… But next to us there were just a few, very non-middle-class, street vendors with skewers of meat and giant sweet potatoes roasting on steel oil drums on the back of bicycle trailers. It took us a while to get a taxi.

Then our taxi driver got a bit lost at the end after negotiating rush hour with awesome skill. We could only point to the tiny map printed on the card from our hotel… he pulled over, called the hotel, cussed cheerfully I think at our stupidity and the hotel’s; we finally got there and I tipped him 10 yuan extra hoping that would make up for it all. He said no at first, but then took it and seemed rather surprised and cheerful.

Oh! wheelchair notes! So far, my wheelchair has fit into the back of every kind of taxi. IN the smallest ones, I have to take off the footrest, but that is easy – it’s quick release, and I only have one footrest. My chair is a Quickie x frame. Your mileage may vary. Taxi drivers have been super nice about folding up my chair and stuffing it carefully into the trunk.

Some hotel bathrooms, like the ones in the airport, are very accessible. Some are not! Out in the geek malls, the bathrooms would have a wheelchair-access sign, but then were not at all accessible. I parked my chair, went up a step into the narrow stall, held onto the plumbing pipe for dear life, and squatted. If you can’t do that, you will run into difficulties; stick to bathrooms in big hotels and very fancy western malls.

Here is another random observation: people hand business cards with both hands. I keep forgetting, then noticing again. Offer your card with both hands and also accept other people’s cards with both hands.

As I wander all these malls and see the general prosperity of the millions of people in Beijing I think of what I would read about China in the 1980s. That if you came as a visitor, you would get a military escort or a “tour guide” who shadowed you and would not let you do barely anything; that you’d be shown “model” projects and Potemkin villages. 20 years later, that is not the case. But I still have that history in mind, and feel lucky to be here.

Another observation on character. There seems to be more public space, and the feeling towards public space is somewhat different than in the U.S. Public spaces are slightly less commericalized, less determined. Where in the U.S. it is hard to find a place that has not been overdetermined as to its use and what you are “supposed to do” there. Some of that attitude towards public space might be that people don’t have a lot of private outdoor space, while in the U.S. you might have a tiny backyard or in a big city might consider public space to be “unsafe”. So, I am not romanticizing it, but I like the feeling that people just go outside and hang out.

Back to my description of the day. After a rest we forced ourselves to go out, to get more familiar with the neighborhood and to look for dinner. We realized suddenly we were right on Wangfujing street, which is a giant pedestrian outdoor mall, a section of street that goes for many blocks with no cars. TV billboards, and brand name stores, and giant pharmacies, ice cream places, all a street for chinese tourists coming to shop and gawk at life in the big city. To the side there were little alleys with booths — a whole street with just meat on skewers, meat of many many kinds, and another with just booths of tourist tchatchkas like stuffed pandas and small replicas of the terracotta warriors.

As we got further and further from our hotel I realized I was freezing, my neck hurt so much I couldn’t push my chair anymore, and I was exhausted. All the jet lag in the world hit me at once and I felt sort of helpless and weepy and unable to think. I felt super scared that tomorrow (now today) I wouldn’t be able to be independent, or go out, because my arm wasn’t working very well. Zond-7 nicely gave me his warm sweatshirt and pushed me back to the hotel, remarking that my body thought I had just stayed up all night and it was 10am. The restaurants all seemed either too huge, touristy and bustling, or too pissant and empty like the one across the street. So we tried the hotel restaurant on the 2nd floor.. but it not only sucked, but was closing for the night. I slurped some cheap slightly nasty noodles, giggling in despair. We went up to our room, where I had a bath and passed out within like 10 minutes.

My arm is still a bit wobbly (old neck problems flaring up) but I think it will be okay. I just need to be a little more conservative and not wheel myself up curbs and ramps and endlessly everywhere for 8 hours straight. We’re going back to the conference today. I hope I can go out on my own again – but maybe will save it for Tiananmen tomorrow.

Everything in the guidebooks has has been hopelessly silly, wrong, and pointless. Misleading, overdetermined, ignorant, and with dumb generalizations, full of all that.

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Beach day delirium, strange shapes bring in a banquet

Friday I hung out and worked from SF from That Cafe, meeting Skud and some guys I work with (Matthew and Marc) and Zond-7 who showed up for an hour to rant about how much he hates the snootiness of That Cafe (pre-caffeination). I had the best tacos ever with Marc and Matthew who nicely drove me to La Taqueria on 25th and then Mission Pies which I had just described to them in glowing yet slightly mocking terms as a beautiful utopian thing. Then shovelled Zond-7 off to the dentist at 2 and got him around 3 from downtown. Our vacation cannot be stopped by mere mortal things such as traffic or lost fillings. I don’t think *I* could get a novocaine shot and a crown replaced and then be in good temper for a drive and a vacation but Zond-7 can, or can fake it well! The coast was beautiful… there was no traffic once we were on the highway… all was magic and imaginary leaping dolphins with rainbow sparkles. We established with tenative pokings that we are both the sort of people who like to stop randomly and often on road trips. We got a smoothie and some fudge and …. holy grail (unused as yet) index cards as Zond-7 was fantasizing about how index cards were about to bring the molecules into alignment and in the correct chambers. Every once in a while over the weekend we would sigh out “Index cards!” pleased that they were there just in case. We stopped at the beach… we talked about so many things that I will never remember and cannot list… I did hear entertaining differences in me and Q’s travel styles. Apparently my saying “let’s fuck around in this random shopping center to buy fudge and eat it in bed later at midnight for energy” hit home as an elemental Difference from “we are in for the long haul and will pack much flat food wrapped in tin foil which will sit on the engine block and cook”. Which strikes me as having a certain charm as an experiment (yet not a way) and I prefer convenient if overexpensive food, not fussing about things, midnight fudge, and crumbs in bed as a luxurious pleasure of life. The beach — i think it was Bean Hollow — was beautiful and nearly deserted but not quite. We didn’t care and made out disgracefully as if completing a postcard of the beach with a slot for “snogging couple”. After a bit we tried to move out of direct parking lot view. The sand was warm, the water freezing, we did not see otters, we rolled in the sand, there were pelicans galore; everything was fuzzed with a golden halo. Back on Highway 1 we saw a bobcat cross the road — a cat, no, it is huge, its ears are tufted, and no tail. The drive into redwoods from the coast is always astonishing, gold and sage and dryness and dunes turn to furry post oak canyons then suddenly a cleft and you’re 200 feet down into cathedral pillars and shadow. Among all the beautiful things we talked about I am suddenly thinking of Zond-7 breaking into a silence by remarking dreamily on the way the trees looked like they had dropped down not grown up because of how straight they are – like stalactites – and I felt so fond of him for this quality of reacting to any situation by looking at it and having a new thought, a sort of fertile improvisation, erratic – I just like how he reacts to the world in general. I do it too. By the time we got to the Secret B&B it was 7 or so. I was not as crippled as they had expected. D. welcomed us with absent-minded professorly concern. His partner’s razor sharp observations made me want to hide a bit — plus, I had to pee. The room felt very private, separate from the house. I like to think of myself as unfussy, and I am, but I do have aesthetic awareness and this room was the nicest I have ever been in, down to every detail. Things were where you would expect them to be, convenient things, beautiful and useful, extra things you don’t expect but think OH how every sensible and good. The tub, enormous, stone, with a sort of bulgy part underneath the tap in a different kind of rock obviously fiddled in by hand on purpose to catch the water stream. We stayed up pretty late, I think, but I lost track of time… it’s bizarre for things to be so amazing but to be also sure that they will continue to be more so and it is not some random peak of feeling or coincidence or new-love surge.

Breakfast in the morning was … well I was feeling like oh will it be annoying and intrusive or what… but instead we walked into the living room of the house and the other 2 couples were there playing scrabble with coffee in fancy china cups quietly chatting and then we all had breakfast together at the table… and everyone was nice. and D. and S. and the other person served us breakfast in 3 courses complete with shakespeare anecdote about how D. felt like Prospero and his invisible spirit minions at the feast and Ariel saying we must think on our crimes… I loved D. and would not mind going back to talk to him and S. sometime. What a beautiful unexpected thing to say and image to give while shimmering in like a philosophical butler and placing honey and biscuits… I shall record the fantasticness of the food (forgive me) A wedge of pineapple that looked like an enormous piece of cake – perfectly ripe and sliced and in its shell – with slices of ripe warm banana covered in lemon sauce and cinnamon. Biscuits with butter and honey and apricot jam and another kind of jam but the apricot was the best. Eggs and spicy sausage sort of things and fried tiny peppers and potatoes, all perfect. And I drank about a gallon of coffee – still delirious from the night before – As I still am right now. We spent the rest of the morning in bed and in the giant giant deep bathtub. We thought about going to the shakespeare festival with them but ended up doing the redwood park instead and again finding a nice compatibility of liking to lie down in a quiet spot and stare at the trees.
Meanwhile we talked and Zond-7 entertained me royally with the History of J4vascript and then the 3 kinds of Object oriented programming with tangents on various actual people and with me interjecting my own experiences — it is very fine to bitch about my encounters with hideous objecty code that didn’t have any reasons to be that way. Observer; Aggregate or Collection; Commander, etc. explained as well as history of the architecture patterns dude and his books and the trends following them. My own counterlectures were shorter and more interruptive or disruptive; ocean surfing tips, rants on various topics, resolutions and organization, personal history, feminist internet controversies, whatever the hell else I usually talk about, (interrupt) but it’s another day later now, so I don’t remember anymore. We discussed what to do in another tenative establishing-of-norms-or-expectations conversation (trying to make sure we were not just saying what we thought the other person wanted or or expected in an endless round of doublethink) and concluded we did not want to waste more time sitting in a restaurant, or going to a town, or going to a place of crowdedness, or calling people we know, or going back, but instead would like to be somewhere else nice and space-outable, zennishly spacing out and talking and looking at things. This ended up being scott’s creek beach, which had some very excellent warning signs about rip tides, sharks, water contamination, not breaching the lagoon, and many other forbidden or dangerous things. Walking in the sand was a challenge, but not impossible. I went halfway in the water until my feet stopped being numb and instead ached scarily – though I could have waited it out. Soon we should go to the beach with both kids, to the excellent place with tidepools!! We got back after dark and hung out with Skud and Rook and zdashamber for a while – I had to lie down a bit and so Zond-7 and I crashed out with computers as the others watched a movie (that was coincidentally my exact anti-pattern of a good movie, with extra hollywoodyness).

The rest of the weekend I stressed about my article deadline, helped Rook do prep for his trip, did kid things and domestic chores and made pancakes for everyone and drove Zond-7 to the train and picked up Moomin’s friend, Hamster, who lives near the train station, and got to hang out with Hamster’s mom in my yard eating tomatoes I grew and picked, and I also walked all the way to Hole Foods and bought things and walked back (!!!) and did not get to hack with Skud mostly b/c of catching up on domesticity and my deadline (alas) but it was a good, mellow, day.

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How it went today and other stories

Today I woke up at 7 not hurting too much, but hurting in my back and knees and toes and finger joints, and shoulders. (As is nearly always true.) I made myself get up and move around when I couldn’t stand to be in bed hurting any more. I did some laundry and picked things up and I think cleared off bits of the kitchen table while I waited for my coffee. Bustling around in the morning works well to force me to move around, so my joints unstiffen. I looked at Rook and Moomin and Mina and Zond-7 asleep all in their different rooms and wanted to wake them up but didn’t. Well, periodically I curled up with Zond-7 hoping that I would either fall asleep again or that he would wake up and distract me from myself. But he would gaze at me dreamily and then pass out again. It seemed more merciful to let Rook sleep since he had been up late and of course I would not wake up any sleeping small children. So I drank my coffee and continued to bustle around from room to room exulting a little that despite hurting… and a limp… I could walk so awesomely. At times today I was almost *striding*. (Unlike the last 2-3 days which have been a hell of physical pain, especially my left knee, which is somewhat from barcamp and exhaustion but somewhat my own fault for overambitious sex; all worth it and I haven’t complained much.) I set out food for kids and poked at my computer and email a bit and thought about work and made notes and plans and more lists. Kids woke up. Rook woke up. Zond-7 remained vague. Showers…. food…. I made Mina’s lunch… folded more laundry… and made lists. I drove Moomin to his slightly squalid summmer camp, got a block away and realized it was his field trip day, went back home to get the correct tshirt id-ing him as being from that camp, dropped him off… Chaos… uncertainty. Then impatiently I poked up Zond-7 again and whisked him and Mina away to Bad-ass mamas coffee day. No grownups really talked with us which was too bad but sometimes happens. Mina was shy of the big kids. The cafe was unusually noisy…I love going there even so. The perfect pancakes! and M. and her sister who are so lovely. And Squid finally showed up and was in tears and I thought maybe she just cracked a bit from the pressure of life or Leelo had hit the baby or something extra difficult but it was some bad news about family friends who died. She does not like for her emotions to be visible so even sympathy or awareness is difficult as one does not want to embarrass her. And yet. And she was trying not to cry in front of Iz, which I understood, not because Iz should not know her mom cries but because Iz is extremely inquisitive and S is quite private and reserved, like Rook. Then we almost missed the train and I got out to see them off figuring that if they had to wait extra I would hang out or take them to the library. But there was another train! Or the first one was extra for the baseball game! Off to work… where I collapsed onto the couch and began a day of vaguely wrassling with the damn licensing thing. I am just making it up based on what a bunch of different people say it should be. None of them seem to realize how deeply they have no real idea — if it were not a grey area there would not be such disagreement and confusion. Sometimes I think my value as a worker is in knowing I have no clue and pulling together judgement from many different intelligent sources. The annoying and very unsatisfying bit is when people think that it is really very simple — and one view is right and all others are wrong. Or that because no one quite knows, I could just pick one “expert” opinion basically at random and go with it. Perhaps one could get away with that. I can’t and won’t. The other problem with this is that no matter how carefully i read a document and interpret it, it is not that that’s the problem, it’s the context, the precedents, various levels of politics, etc. Do I enjoy it? I can’t tell. I like some bits of it, but I really hate the lack of respect and the position I’m in of having no authority or power, but an awful lot of the responsibility for things going wrong, in such a classic bad-management situation I wonder that the world doesn’t explode. If not for that, I might like it. Not to mention the endless phone call meeting with VB the father of numbers who is perfectly nice and vastly intelligent and yet I cannot bear another avuncular explanation of bits of trivia that are outside of my control (Like, why does the Closed Minds Institute have the wrong kind of quotes on the page. I know they do. I have said. Others have said. all one needs ot say is “fix the quotes” to the right person. One need not lecture me endlessly about the need for file formats to be good. If you look for 2 seconds on the interwebs to see the problems of pla1n text compatibility then you will see this is not the first time this has happened… Anyway, clearly VB has mistaken me for his errant grad student. also i didn’t do it. I did another dumb ticky thing, but not THAT.)

A. brought me delicious yogurt which cheered me … food is love…

But most of it was frustrating, and i didn’t get enough done, and I didn’t get the other thing done I meant to do, and I spent a bunch of time flipping off the air while on a phone call and some more time staring off into space feeling vague while trying to think about what next, in between trying to outline on paper what to do next and IM-ing people whinily about how it sucked and reading public snarky blog posts about it. Quick…. i must develop a thick skin AND a positive attitude.

IM-ed snarkily myself with co-worker while in realtime conversation. Oh naughty addiction of note-passing in class! Went off to have a beer. Tried to talk about sporty things with other co-workers (for once) as i had by coincidence done both the sporty things they were talking about (rafting and paintball). Amazing! I hope to take photos of their paintball bruises tomorrow. Home. YAY HOME so cosy! I cooked stir fry with frozen stir fry bag of things from cosco. and it was super yummy and satisfying.

I bought plane tickets for thankgiving after conferring with Rook. He had picked up Moomin and fed him and paid lots of attention. Oh and had taken him to a movie and shopped and read books yesterday.

Somewhere in the day I read bits of things. And last night I read all of Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu’s Zahrah the Windseeker, which was quite excellent and satisfying with its nervous tough reserved girl-hero and its weird world ripe for sequels and prequels and its Forbidden Greeny Forest with intelligent gorillas; and then a very cheesy space opera that I’m just finishing now to go to sleep with, called Skirmish, by Melisa C. Michaels.

On the way home (partly because of noticing qp’s post and clicking a link on hammocks during a 5 minute LJ break, I was imagining a long fantasy as codependent people in new love do of how when Zond-7 got his new place I would sneak in (“sneak”) and competently (it is a fantasy) install a sort of infrastructure over the bed (which would magically be nice but not too nice) for him to have a hammock and I would also have this fancy hammock which I would have secretly obtained, perhaps the triangular kind that is very fancy that qatipay was writing about on LJ; and i would cunningly arrange it all so that the hammock could be unhooked and swung away, and it would be over the bed so that Mina could play on it and fall off and not kill herself; this all because yesterday Zond-7 and I were in the Pilot’s hammock in the back deck and he was entranced and had *never been in a hammock before*. So when he IM-ed me he had been surfing hammocks I confessed this thought sequence knowing he would understand…

Meanwhile! Moomin told me all about his field trip to Santa Cruz. And read me many comic strips. And we ate on the patio table in the back yard. I did not clean it up. Rook ate banana cream pie from yesterday. I had some hot chocolate and graham crackers in bed while blogging. Rook is writing up his short article on D and D and gender for Cerise magazine. We are almost up to now. I left out how I drove to pick up Eliz. from Jo’s house and we talked gaming. Tonight is the only time before Rook leaves for Burning Man that I have time to be with both her and Rook, I think, so I needed to whisk her away. Realized I ahd screwed up my planning of tomorrow as i was going to hang with skud down here but also said i would be in the city. OOOPS and also i have to be in the city at around 2 to get Zond-7 as we are going off to elope temporarily into the woods by the sea. I have not had a vacation other than the day at Oz Farm. This wll be another long drive and quick vacationy moment. But I wish it were longer. Then suddenly Zond-7′s tooth filling fell out so he must go to the dentist… alas… And so I will go to the city early and hang out and work there and also hang with skud. THEN perhaps take Zond7 to the dentist and THEN go drive off down the coast to the redwoods and a very fancy B & B with a hot tub with vaguely reasonable disabled access with only a few stairs. I want to go into the redwoods AND go to the beach on Saturday if we can pry ourselves out of the hotel room with its amazing looking hot tub. I meant to write about how funny it was the other day when we wrestled each other in bed while arguing with intense passion about epistemology and data structures, really it was the hottest thing ever. Instead I wrote about my very long day so that I could hide that one funny sentence near the end. If I actually told the story it would be even funnier and also the story of his response to my hammock construction fantasy. Now I need to go pack for tomorrow and get ready for bed. I will see tons of friends in the city, I’ll get some good work done, I’ll poke at a fun hackery thing with skud, and I’ll go on fabulous brief vacation. I feel super happy and loved!

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Huzzah, walking more


walking in to pick up milo at camp
Originally uploaded by Liz.

I walked around a lot today, around the house, dealt with a lot of stairs, a couple of blocks and back (challenging) and into the office and to the other office and back AND in and out of Moomin’s day camp. Walking to coffee I realized that it hurt and was sort of weak but not doing the scary collapsing, and that my range of motion is easier. It hurts less to limp, but the hurting if I make more of an effort not to limp is not catastrophic. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll be in and out of the wheelchair for a while, but it’s been good to see my baseline of a good day is improving gradually! It was especially luxurious to walk to coffee – though frustrating & slow compared to how I like to walk and also to how quick the distance is when I’m in the chair.

Oh also last week I mastered the curb hop. I can go down a regular street curb now from a dead stop. Suddenly on Saturday night I knew in my body that I knew how to do it, a kinesthetic sense of how to do it. Before, I had only done a couple of very small 2-inch curbs. And coming out of Revolution Cafe across from the Make-Out Room the feeling came over me that I knew just what to do…. and I took the giant wooden step out of the cafe in front of a cafe full of people. You have to sort of do a wheelie in mid air and land at the perfect point. All my balancing and stationary wheelies paid off! I was reminded of when I used to know how to do a back dive, or how you know right away with a wave when surfing whether you have got the wave or whether you’re going to wipe out.

At the cafe me and D. ran into Evelyn who I know from Blogher and from her blogging in general… she is really interesting and poety and creative, & was telling me her plans to start a sort of artists colony co-op in New Orleans.

For some reason I was thinking today about how Caraja used to say casually things like she was thinking of moving to New York or Vancouver and I would just be like Uhhhhhhhhh I know I have to take this because you should do what is best for you, but AAAAAAAAAAA HELP. And just attempting to take everything in stride. The thing is I think things like that are okay but they are not okay instantly… and take discussion… and i think one gets to have a reaction to such things!

I was thinking about my blog (this one) today and how I started it and my lifelong diary-keeping. I kept realizing how strong the mismatch was between my internal and external realities. I would think all these complicated long thinky thoughts & was writing all the time but no one read it, so no one knew who I was, really — other than whoever was going out with me at the time who I would make stay up till 2am listening to my giant long rambling chains of ideas combined with neurotic freakouts. If you have dated me any time before say 2000 then surely you know what I mean. Plus long letters all the time… which people can experience as demands for equally long letters back. I think after that I calmed down a little. But I think not an easy person… at all. These days I think I’m less demanding to the people close to me. But I’m still over-intense at times. The point is blogging made me much happier in a way my private diaries never could. And I feel like people can actually see that I am a very texty person.

I was having another funny complicated thought in the car about a person I used to hang out with who was a musician. Sometimes I would play drums in his informal jam session. I know you’re picturing that was really cool looking but no… I was not competently flinging sticks around behind a shiny chrome complicated insectoid drum set, I was rapping ineffectually on some bongos or whatever they were. The point is, he and I would hang out. I was 19 or so and liked to get into his shows… and i thought of myself as a poet (and was) and was sort of notorious for being a freaky chick. So he was more famous, but I felt perfectly equal to the situation. Oh! and I would get on stage and play tamborine… and feel sort of fun & glitzy. THERE WAS A POINT HERE. It is that he would act really weird in public and I was (from smoking a bunch of pot and thinking about social dynamics) sensitive to that all of a sudden. Backstage at his shows I would explain that I was just fine… I was having fun. But if he could not *see* visible manifestation of my fun-having then he would act sort of cruel and cold and indifferent and pissed off, and I realized it was because he felt guilty that I was not “having fun” or being famous-acting and popular like him. And then, if I *was* acting like that and in a groove and genuinely hyper and flouncy, as I do love to be sometimes, he would get anxious that maybe I was going to eclipse him or would be more interested in someone else or would no longer pay attention to him. And so he would be hangdog and nice to me and act sort of kicked.. in this annoying way… as if needing reassurance (which I wouldn’t give because it would piss me off too much that that was going on.) (We weren’t even dating… but he would act like we were!) My point here is that looking back on this I think how he existed in a permanent state of either anxiety or guilt, neither of which had anything to do with me really, though he would project it out onto me because I have a strong personality and was there. The guilt made him cruel and the anxiety made him sweet. Neither one was much fun.

Last night D. came down on the train and I had a very excited meeting the train feeling. and was all like ohhhh i have just seen you on geek tv wearing that same outfit. We all had dinner together I have to say sort of awkwardly but sweetly and sat around outside…. martinemonster is here staying till our dragons rpg on friday, to guest star. I think it’s cool that she’s having the geek tour of the U.S. with various rpgs and then comic con! I wonder if she’ll end up at burning man? Anyway we went back to the city & this morning was so super amazing nice. More mind-blowing conversation. We are on mix cd 2 with liner notes and explications so you see it is serious… And are babbling endlessly either at each other or other people about it all. We have totally revved up our lesbian uhauls. People are sort of laughing at this and rightly so but luckily we don’t mind. And I keep getting emails making fun of me gently for being oblique about it and also for being hasty – but I always am. Right now I feel lucky as hell… we could have missed this? and not caring about any of the things that could go wrong. I had several blog names thought of but they aren’t really right, though they might have been a month ago and instead I will use “Zond-7″ which is applicable and dorky-cool and robotic and spacey sounding. It really has to be something silly. The date is pretty good and that it was the only really successful one, I like the “uncommon skip reentry” part which sounds oddly poetic. plus the name sounds like a ridiculous dr. who villain which also fits. It is very very odd how you can sort of know someone or know a fair bit about them (as we have been in intersecting polyblobs for years) and just really really not know them. Plus you become someone different anyway with a new person.

Tomorrow is a new dragons game… I should take a photo of the fancy folders with pictures on the cover – I made them a few weeks ago in a day-long crafty fervor on one of the first days I could sit up. My new character is a blowhard, a drunk, charming
but a little bit vicious, the dissolute younger son of a minor branch of a big wealthy family. His older brother is Madeline’s character, whose dragon was our grandfather’s dragon (played by vito_excalibur), and his sister is an NPC. I am really liking the family tree and stuff we made up … and as usual Rook’s NPCs steal the show.. in our case we all seem to love “No-good Cho” and Shady Lee the merchant or smuggler the best. He plays a really good shifty insincere lying character. My dragon character is okay but is too similar to past characters and too unfocused. I don’t feel quite like she and vito_excalibur’s human character have meshed or gotten any chemistry but I think that will develop over time.

work today was loooong and unsettling but i think the end result is good. i guess i will go private to talk about that.

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Fierce and tough, belly up, navel-gazing, on drugs

I was thinking about how much I have invested in being fierce and tough. When you set out to be brave you tend to view with suspicion anyone saying “It’s okay, you don’t have to be tough.” Yes you do! “It’s okay to be scared and cry and be taken care of.” You know most of the time it’s NOT and I don’t want to live that way or encourage myself to be unable to cope. Generally, I operate that it’s okay to feel those things for like 1 minute and then one Figures Out What to Do to make it feel better or change the situation or be proactive or constructive. That’s how I try to operate. Negative feelings are allowed, can be and should be recorded for the sake of honesty, completeness, transparency, and later analysis. A little wallowing is okay. What can I do better next time? All that.

But omg I feel a lot of wallowing right now, fear uncertainty anger.

It was so nice that xyzzy came down yesterday and basically just patted me and said there there this sucks it’s not fair poor sweet badger. and massaged me ultra gently for hours while feeding me chocolates and allowing me to lie there spaced-outedly on a dose of Vicodin, with intermittent complaining, web surfing, and geeking out on Inform 7 in my more lucid moments. (Which, holy crap, Inform 7 is amazing, epiphany-making, and as I have said many times before, in so many words, E. Short is one of my idols for having a beauty and clarity of writing & vision & aesthetics that I will never achieve. I can go there, but I am not that, so I admire it all the more, (which incidentally is why I keep marrying physicists, besides the sexy nerd factor)).

What I mean to say is –

You really don’t get very far in life, if you’re me, by accepting anyone saying “There there poor sweet Badger.”

No one had better encourage me to be weak… no physical or emotional malingering is allowed here. No time for that in life. Life is too short. Get the fuck over it. Etc.

So on some level, niceness makes me want to run away screaming.

However it was belly up and paws up for me and dammit if people want to be nice to me then I’ll just have to take it… because I need it. I’ll just to suffer through all this being-nice-to-me wallowing-in-self-pity.

D did it for me last year in the Botanical Gardens and I will always remember it and in fact often do.

Also, about a whole year which is a horrible haze to me in some ways, post-miscarriage, where Rook petted me to sleep every night while I cried into my pillow… I still feel forever in debt and a bit disappointed in myself for not being tougher. On the other hand, supported by Rook’s emotional care, I did manage to make a good career transition and also was productive in some other ways. People have miscarriages all the time… I still feel like I was really un-tough back then. How I will deal with anyone’s actual death or actual super intense tragedy any much worse than this, I do not like to think. Okay, let’s not go there.

Anyway.

The point is.

“You don’t have to do anything or be entertaining or productive”

Not exactly my motto is it?

I looked at the part of me that would like to hear that and it was like gazing into a horrible endless void…

“You’re at a low point, that’s okay”

It’s never okay with me for me to be at a low point. Basically I slap myself and say get over it. Though I value this about myself, maybe I go too far.

That was an interesting insight – how much resistance I have no matter how much I need it to the very idea (even when I’m asking) and the basic really strong feeling of suspicion.

The suspicion runs like this: Are you trying to make me weak? Are you trying to enable my incompetence? My fear? Do you want me dependent on you? What happens when you go away?

Does it make me seem pathetic or as if no one else is ever “nice” to me? People are nice to me all the time!

Suddenly I think of CERTAIN OTHER PEOPLE who are a lot like this. A quality I admire. But how frustrating to deal with from the other side. How mistrustful and pointless it seems! How insulting! How not-in-the-moment! How closed-off! I don’t want to be like that, actually!

High expectations! I like to be competent. I like to be kick ass. I like to be, if not obviously the best at any one thing, stunningly and unexpectedly good at many things, with no reason to be. That does NOT include lying in bed doped to the gills telling myself it’s okay not to do anything. Even if one has to lie there, there is plenty to do. Upon reflection, these are the qualities of an arrogant motherfucker who is in total denial.

If I were someone else would I be thinking “so you can’t walk and you’re in pain, get over yourself”?

Well yeah. On some level I would be. So aren’t other people all thinking that as they nicely take care of me and watch me melt down?

You see what I mean about my being “arrogant motherfucker”.

First step in that might just be to go easier on myself.

Which as you should see by now, is total blasphemy because the answer is NEVER “go easier on myself”… wtf…

Rambling… pain meds…. er… oh well… Embarrassing myself on the intarwebs since whenever, might as well keep it up.

Grief sucks, denial is better 8-P I will be walking friskily by Monday right? Or if not I will be wheeling competently in a super tough way?

Because I’m going to teach my class on Monday no matter what!

Also I am going to Vancouver! Fuck! Rook pointed out I need to accept I might not. Hmmph. I will so. Maybe a day late if i have to.

Maybe I could go back on oral prednisone?

I don’t believe in accepting reality, it’s one of my virtues, it makes for better struggle and bringing about of utopia…

Considering ways my parents fasten on any doubt and exacerbate it, makes everything seem difficult or impossible, throws obstacles in path, encourages inertia, make a doubt or difficulty a big excuse to not do anything, so it’s not like in any dark night of the soul I would call them. when I do it is just to take care of them so they won’t feel bad that I feel bad. They are not any help. I appreciate that they would like to be. What it results in is discouragement of ambition and dreams. I only go into this to explain part of why i am like this in the first place; it doesn’t affect me at this point because I don’t have that kind of expectations from them… But on looking back, I can see they were not useful to turn to and weakness scared and bothered them when they saw it in me. (Partly, I think they were waiting for me to go crazy, like my uncle did when he was a teenager. Emotional upset and my neuroticness really perturbed them as they were haunted by this fear.) Plus if you look back at you know who, whose mission in life was to teach me to be tough, the real world, wake up and smell the coffee, be on the ball, if you get cheated it means you are stupid and deserve it, if you’re not on guard, tough luck, fear is weakness, be tough. I rejected him and (complexly over years) that lesson. Part of this may be the ghost of that lesson.

I can’t sit up in bed, still. I called the doctor and got a call back to take more pain meds, this is normal “increased pain”, I should become more functional over the weekend, take the meds. There will be a “dramatic upswing” when it happens I will feel way better. I guess when the swelling goes down and the nerve is uncompressed.

But so far I can’t put on my own socks, I can maybe hobble or crutch to the bathroom, and as I said, sitting up in bed is not an option yet.

Sideways in bed is really not so bad for a little while, with laptop, brain mostly intact, and pain meds if I need them.

The weekend looks hard. I would like visitors who don’t require me to get up out of bed. Ass massaging optional. My ambition is to be outside for some of the day. This will take a goodly amount of setup. I can’t get up and down easily at all. even being on the couch is a big deal and also, not comfortable. Also I can’t fake it that I’m doing okay for very long, it is a strain. So, a mercy if I don’t have to. and yet I would like to see people who it is okay if I am not really okay because I get really bored and lonely.

Should I post this…? How embarrassing, later… but I’ll pretend it isn’t…

Wouldn’t it be nice to be the sort of person who never writes or says things like this? Who is never so messy? And who would just quietly go about their business? My steely-eyed jaw-clench would be the only clue. A little macho muscle-twitch or a bead of sweat on my forehead as I moodily contemplated the horizon and thought of … something that no one else would ever know. It would not bother me that no one would know. It would be none of anyone’s business. A useful, unbothersome person, fond of order, with few possessions kept neatly polished.

I’m amusing myself by tagging this both “whining” and “optimism”.

I thought last night of weakness and dependency and how much I dislike them in myself. I thought too of things said at Woolfcamps past about people’s strong feelings about touch and that it is possible to go years where no one ever touches you physically or is affectionate. (I’ve certainly heard it from women and men, by the way.) That sounds like hell. I need physical affection a lot. We are strange little animals and need petting even at the best of times. I feel lucky to get it not only in general but right when I need it most.

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Weird surfing video

“Riding Giants” v. strange, full of jaw dropping moments of stunning cluelessness, colonialist weirdness, bad metaphors, wondering why the fuck, and yet fascinating, the knowledge in my body what its like to rush down a wave or the uncertainty before you take it or pull back or knowing you’re going to wipe out and can’t do anything about it, just get as much control as you can & point forward before you crash down with the wave on top. So though I ride a 5 or 6 foot wave the videos make my body have intense memories as I see these people on 50 foot waves.

A good day today, moments of exhaustion, but I laid down & then was fine again for a while. Gina came over and we hot tubbed. Moomin took to her amazingly. He explained Captain Underpants to her a bit.

Tonight has been bad with white-hot stabs in the base of my spine so that in the middle of sentences I can’t really talk anymore and have to wrench my mind back to words. So that means crutches tonight. I avoided taking any pain drugs.

In the middle of all this I had an infection of some kind in my finger. It looks to be something right at the edge of my fingernail but it made the whole fingertip swell up. It kept getting bigger and bigger. Finally last night it got to where I couldn’t ignore the pain of typing. So I alternated reading, typing, surfing some blogs, and ice pack on finger. I have an amazing capacity to ignore that sort of thing. This morning finally pus started oozing out from the edge of my fingernail while I was smearing antibiotic ointment on it. And then more and more kept coming out. It was incredibly disgusting! I squeezed a bunch out though I know that’s the wrong thing to do, but it was such a relief to have it less swollen.

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hell and twitchiness

My whole back is in one giant weird cramp. I think from whatever was going on with the electrodes at physical therapy. Arrrgh!

Despite that, I’m walking really well around the house. I’m not sure how to test walking distance. Maybe laps up and down the driveway without crutches, gradually increasing, until I have the confidence to walk further afield? I don’t know whether I can rely on my leg not to collapse.

Even if I keep improving will I be confident enough to teach w/out a chair, or travel without one next month?

Oh – in good news – my new passport got here with amazing speed.

Can you tell I’m bored with lying in bed? At least being up, there’s distraction from pain! Maybe it’s time to take a muscle relaxant and watch those surfing documentaries.

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Good site on herniated discs

The Mayo Clinic site on herniated discs is good, and this personal story sounds awfully familiar. From this and a bunch of other things on the net, I’m kinda thinking the epidural steroid injection would be a good thing to try next.

But first I think maybe a back specialist – someone who is more comfortable than my gp in doing a diagnosis without an MRI, because it sounds like the MRI isn’t all that necessary for diagnosis – only really useful if you want surgery which I most emphatically do NOT. Also, if anyone’s going to inject steroids into my fucking spinal column I want it to be a back-injecting expert. My physical therapist said the epidural can be helpful but it lays you up for a few days extra. (Plus it sounds very scary.)

The exercises I’m getting are all about “dynamic lumbar stabilization”. So after this whole thing resolves I must, must, must have regular back-strengthening exercise!! Not just walking! I think swimming or in the summer/fall, surfing, once a week would be a good goal.

Medline on herniated discsspine.org on epidural injections – MOre from spine.orgjama info on herniated discs.

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